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Clippers Stay on Road to Nowhere : They Lose to Pacers, Ending Trip With 11th Straight Defeat

January 12, 1988|CHRIS BAKER | Times Staff Writer

INDIANAPOLIS — The Clippers ended a 7-game, 13-day trip against Eastern Conference teams with a 111-90 loss to the Indiana Pacers Monday night before 7,230 fans at Market Square Arena.

The road-weary Clippers (8-23), who failed to win a game on this trip, have lost 11 straight contests and have dropped 13 of their last 14. Los Angeles has lost its last 10 road games.

"It's like we've forgotten how to win. I wish I knew what was wrong," said Mike Woodson, who scored 17 points against the Pacers. "We're all struggling. We've got to get back home and dig out of it.

"We're just getting one royal butt-whipping after another. We're not playing as well as we were earlier in the year. We've got to regroup."

And things may get worse before they improve. The Clippers return home to face the Lakers Wednesday night at the Sports Arena before hitting the road again Friday night to face the Golden State Warriors in Oakland.

"I think our biggest need right now is confidence more than anything else," said guard Larry Drew, who had 17 points against Indiana. "We've shown that we can win with the players we've got."

Coach Gene Shue shook up his lineup, starting rookie Norris Coleman at forward in place of Joe Wolf.

Although Coleman scored just 7 points and grabbed 5 rebounds in his first start in 19 games as a pro, Shue called the move a success and said that Coleman would remain in the starting lineup. Coleman did a good job of playing defense, holding Pacer star Chuck Person to just 8 points.

"I started Coleman hoping to get some offense," Shue said. "He's got speed and a good outside shot."

Said Coleman: "I don't think I shot well, but I played good defense. I think we had a shot at beating them until the third quarter, but we just died."

Shue's experiment with Coleman, however, failed to change the outcome of the game as his team was blown out once again. The Clippers have been soundly beaten in their last eight games, losing by margins of 19, 19, 37, 16, 16, 14, 32, and 21 points.

"We're going through a difficult time on the road," Shue said. "It's tough to win in the road in the NBA even if you have a talented team. We have no consistency and we need our players to be consistent. For us to win, we have to play at the top of our game.

"What really hurt us was losing four straight at home before we went on the road. The worst was the Phoenix game (in which they blew a 21-point lead and lost by 19). That really hurt our confidence."

It is hard for Shue to have much faith in a team after he sees three of his starters outscored by a reserve from the other team.

Forward Wayman Tisdale of the Pacers came off the bench to score a team-high 22 points. Tisdale had more points by himself than Clipper center Benoit Benjamin (8) and forwards Michael Cage (6) and Coleman (7).

Benjamin drew a technical foul from referee Wally Rooney with 9 minutes 26 seconds left in the third quarter after Rooney called an offensive foul on the Clipper center.

Shue removed Benjamin from the game, and there was an exchange between them as Benjamin walked to a seat at the end of the bench.

Shue refused to comment on what was said. Benjamin said he simply told Shue what he has said to the official.

Benjamin didn't return to the game until the fourth quarter, and the Clippers were already out of it by then.

Indiana (16-15), which lost a heartbreaker to the Lakers Saturday in its last game, had little trouble beating the other team from Los Angeles.

The Pacers held the Clippers to just 16 points in the second quarter to take command of the game. Tisdale had 12 points in 12 minutes in the first half as Indiana grabbed a 50-42 lead.

"This was a good game for us," Pacer Coach Jack Ramsay said. "I liked the defensive intensity from the start, and we maintained it. There's a tendency to assume that you'll win against a team that's losing, and it'll fall in your lap. But it won't.

"The Clippers have good players and a good coach, but they need experience."

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