The Clippers managed to lose to the Washington Bullets, 101-96, on a night when Moses Malone didn't score a basket.
They managed this difficult feat Wednesday night before a crowd of 6,852 at the Sports Arena, failing to maintain a 74-69 lead in the third quarter.
"I'm not disappointed; I'm mad because we had so many opportunities to win," Clipper rookie swingman Reggie Williams said.
Washington guard Jeff Malone, who had just 6 points in the first half, scored 14 in the second half to finish with 20 points. He scored six of the Bullets' final eight points, hitting three jumpers in the final 2 minutes 14 seconds.
Bullet forward Bernard King also had a big game, apparently regaining the shooting touch that enabled him to win the National Basketball Assn. scoring title in 1984-85.
King scored a game-high 25 points, 21 in the second half, as the Bullets (3-8) broke a five-game losing streak.
"Bernard still looks like the Bernard of old," Williams said. "He's going to help the Bullets a lot."
King had 13 points in the fourth quarter as the Bullets outscored the Clippers, 32-22.
"Bernard gave them a big lift," Clipper forward Michael Cage said. "He was relentless in going to the hoop."
Clipper rookie forward Joe Wolf was also impressed by King. "He's tough," Wolf said. "He's got great moves and unbelievable quickness."
Said King: "All I'm interested in is winning. It's not that important how many points I score."
While Moses Malone, a three-time MVP, was having one of his worst games ever, the Bullets got a big lift from 7-foot 6-inch center Manute Bol.
"I know what I've got to do; I've got to score," Malone said after he went 0 for 7. "But I only played 19 minutes. That might be the reason."
Washington Coach Kevin Loughery pulled Moses and the rest of his starters after the Clippers grabbed a 14-4 lead just 4 minutes 17 seconds into the game, and Bol and the other reserves outplayed the Clippers, combining for 54 points. The Los Angeles bench had 18 points.
Bol had 13 points, 9 rebounds and 3 blocked shots. John Williams, the former Crenshaw High School star, scored 12 points, grabbed 6 rebounds and passed off for 6 assists. He had 6 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists in the fourth period.
"Last year, our second team was better than our first team," Williams said.
Guard Frank Johnson had 14 points and 4 assists. The only Washington reserves who didn't score in double figures were Mark Alarie (6 points) and Darrell Walker (5).
"The bench game was terrific," Loughery said. "I was very happy with the way the bench has started to come together."
The Bullets' second string also played good defense, forcing the Clippers to turn over the ball with a half-court trap. Washington scored 16 points in the second half off 14 Clipper turnovers. "I think it was obvious that their trap bothered us," Clipper Coach Gene Shue said. "We started out great until they put in the trap. Quite honestly, we haven't had time to work on playing against the trap yet."
Williams, who had 33 points against the San Antonio Spurs last week, has disappeared along with the rest of the Clipper bench.
Williams, who is still recovering from the flu, had 6 points. He made just 3 of 9 shots. Guard Darnell Valentine came off the bench to score 6 points.
The Bullets were leading, 91-84, with 3 minutes 51 seconds left in the fourth period when the Clippers made a move, outscoring Washington, 9-4, to cut the lead to 95-93 with 1:54 left on Williams' jumper.
King sank a pair of free throws to give the Bullets a four-point lead with 1:35 left, but Clipper guard Larry Drew hit a three-pointer with 1:13 remaining to cut it to 97-96.
Jeff Malone gave the Bullets a three-point lead at 99-96 when he sank a jumper with 53 seconds left. And the Clippers blew a golden opportunity when center Benoit Benjamin hit the front of the rim on a little turnaround jumper with 31 seconds left.
Malone then made a 16-footer with nine seconds left to wrap it up.
Mike Woodson finished with a game-high 26 points to lead the Clippers (4-7). Wolf added a season-high 23, while Benjamin had 14 points, 7 rebounds and 3 blocked shots in 39 minutes.
Cage grabbed 14 rebounds and scored 8 points.
Clipper forward Marques Johnson, who has been out since he ruptured a disk in his neck in a game against Dallas Nov. 20 1986, played in a pickup game Tuesday night at Los Angeles High. It was the first time Johnson had played in an organized game since the injury. Johnson scored 30 points and had several dunks. "He was really impressive," said Todd Eskew, a friend of Johnson who attended the game. "He's definitely going to come back once he gets medical clearance from the doctor." The Clippers have placed Johnson on the suspended list and stopped paying him because he hasn't had surgery. He has taken the matter to arbitration, but the hearing has been postponed several times.