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Clippers Shoot Themselves Out of It Early, 97-87 : Los Angeles Hits Only 28.3% in First Half Against Tough Portland Defense

November 28, 1987|CHRIS BAKER | Times Staff Writer

PORTLAND, Ore. — Garbage time came early for the Clippers.

After playing well for the last two weeks, Los Angeles regressed in a 97-87 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers Friday night before a sellout crowd of 12,666 at the Portland Memorial Coliseum.

For the first three quarters, the Clippers were at their worst as they fell behind by 27 points, shooting only 28.3% in the first half.

"It was like someone had put a lid on the basket," Clipper Quintin Dailey said.

Mike Woodson, the Clippers' leading scorer who had averaged 25 points in his last seven games, played 24 minutes and was scoreless. Woodson, playing on a slightly sprained left ankle, went 0 for 10 from the field as he failed to score for the first time in his eight-year National Basketball Assn. career.

"As a shooter, you always feel you can get out of a slump," Woodson said. "I just hope I don't have too many nights like this one.

"I just started forcing things and got out of sync. I never got into my rhythm. I don't think I've ever failed to score in a game. I can't recall being shut out."

Clyde Drexler did a superb job of guarding Woodson.

"What I was trying to do was to deny him (Woodson) the ball," Drexler said. "He had been playing well recently, and we couldn't let him have a big night."

Drexler also had a big night on offense as Portland (6-5) won its fourth straight game. Drexler had 27 points, 10 assists and 9 rebounds in 45 minutes.

Forward Jerome Kersey and center Steve Johnson added 19 points apiece, and guard Terry Porter scored 16.

"We knew the Clippers were playing well this season so we didn't take them lightly," Johnson said.

"We've won four straight games and I've got to be pleased with that," Portland Coach Mike Schuler said. "We defended the hell out of them, and Clyde (Drexler) did a great job on Woodson.

"They only had 31 points in the first half because of the way we defended them. The shots that they did take were because of our pressure defense on the ball. That is one way I saw it. I'm not sure if Gene (Shue) saw it that way."

Shue said: "Portland just played sensational defense against us. They found a weakness and worked it all night. We had trouble against the trap in the Washington game (a 101-96 loss Wednesday night), and Portland came out and overplayed us and we couldn't get into anything.

"Our players just didn't know how to play against that type of defense yet. But I liked the way we came back, but our shooting was just abominable. Reggie Williams struggled all night."

Portland seemed to lose interest after they built a 27-point lead, and the Clippers (4-8) got back into the game in the fourth quarter to make the final margin of defeat more respectable.

Dailey came off the bench to score 17 points, and Larry Drew also had 17. Williams and forward Michael Cage had 15 points apiece.

However, Williams had a miserable shooting night, making just 3 of 16 shots.

"We came out with more intensity in the second half," Williams said. "We played good defense, but our offense is still struggling. We'll get better."

The Clipper offense collapsed in the first half as the team fell behind, 48-31, at halftime.

Los Angeles shot just 26.9% in the first quarter as Portland took a 22-16 lead. Trailing 6-2, Portland blitzed the Clippers, 15-4, to take command.

The Trail Blazers broke the game open with a 16-1 run at the end of the first quarter and the beginning of the second quarter.

The Clippers scored just one point in the first six minutes of the second quarter. They got their their first basket of the quarter when Earl Cureton was credited with a field goal after a goaltending call against Kersey.

Clipper Notes The Clippers have lost 20 consecutive games at Portland . . . Forward Kiki Vandeweghe, the Trail Blazers' leading scorer, sat out his fourth straight game due to a lower back strain. Jerome Kersey started in his place. The Clippers are off until Wednesday, when they play the Philadelphia 76ers at the Sports Arena. The Clippers will play 10 of 12 games at home in December.

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