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Drexler's 41 Points Beat Clippers, 110-96

February 18, 1988|CHRIS BAKER | Times Staff Writer

Clyde Drexler, the Portland Trail Blazers' star guard, had a reputation as one of the premier dunkers in basketball when he came into the National Basketball Assn. in 1983.

Drexler had been a charter member of the Phi Slamma Jamma dunking fraternity that led the University of Houston to two trips to the National Collegiate Athletic Assn. Final Four.

Although Drexler is still one of the NBA's best dunkers, he's worked on the other phases of his game to become one of the league's best shooting guards.

Need proof? Just ask the Clippers.

Drexler matched his career high by scoring 41 points in 34 minutes as the Trail Blazers beat the Clippers for the 10th straight time, 110-96, Wednesday night before 7,710 fans at the Sports Arena.

Drexler, who had 22 points in the first half, including 16 in the second quarter, might have scored 50 points if he hadn't gotten into foul trouble, which forced him to sit out much of the third quarter.

"He (Drexler) is a great player," Clipper Coach Gene Shue said. "We just didn't have anyone who could guard him. We try to defend him one-on-one, but we didn't do a good job on him."

Clipper guard Mike Woodson, who spent much of the night watching Drexler drive past him, ranks Drexler along with Michael Jordan of the Chicago Bulls.

"He (Drexler) is just on a roll," Woodson said. "Jordan's always tough, but Clyde picks his spots. He seems to play well against us."

Drexler has made a habit of killing the Clippers.

"I threaten to kill Clyde if he doesn't play well," Portland Coach Mike Schuler said. "He's a slasher who is able to take the ball to the basket. He's just a great athlete."

Drexler has averaged 26.9 points in his last nine games against the Clippers over the last two seasons.

"Drexler just took control of the game tonight," said Clipper center Benoit Benjamin, who scored a team-high 22 points before fouling out. "He's an All-Star player, and he just took control."

Drexler, who finished third behind Jordan and Dominique Wilkins of the Atlanta Hawks in the NBA slam dunk contest two weeks ago in Chicago, had a dunk in the second quarter that is sure to make the Portland highlight film.

He stole the ball from Clipper center Greg Kite and raced in for a windmill dunk. Just for good measure, he pumped the ball before he dunked.

"I call that a pump dunk," Drexler said afterward. "It's one of my favorites. I used to just be known as a dunker, but I think that dunk stuff left after my rookie year when I proved that I could shoot from the outside."

Drexler hit 16 of 21 shots against the Clippers and made all 9 of his free throws. He also had 4 rebounds and 5 assists.

Drexler tried to share the credit with his teammates after the game.

"I'm not even conscious of the points I score," he said. "I couldn't have done it without my teammates."

Drexler had a lot of help as Portland ended a two-game losing streak.

Forward Jerome Kersey scored 17 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, and center Kevin Duckworth added 15 points and 13 rebounds as Portland beat the Clippers on the boards, 46-29.

Duckworth, who began the season as the Blazers' backup center, has started the last 12 games in place of Steve Johnson, who is out with a thumb injury.

Duckworth also was involved in a minor altercation with Kite in the second half.

Duckworth waved his finger in Kite's face after they battled for a rebound underneath the Clipper basket. They resumed their battle under the boards at the other end, trading elbows. Referee Dick Bavetta responded by calling a technical fouls on both players.

"Kite still thinks of me as a rookie," said Duckworth, who is in his second season. "I'm not a rookie. His game is intimidation, and he thought he could intimidate me."

Kite's version of the incident: "It was pretty ridiculous. We were just banging back and fourth. I said something to him and the referee warned us. Then he started complaining to the other ref. It was pretty weak."

Veteran forward Caldwell Jones, who had failed to score in his last four games, broke out of his slump by scoring a season-high 14 points against Clipper forward Michael Cage.

Cage, who needed 17 rebounds to overtake Charles Oakley of the Chicago Bulls for the NBA rebounding lead, came up with only 7 and 21 points.

Clipper Notes

Portland forward Kiki Vandeweghe, a former UCLA star, sat out the game with a sore back. . . . The Clippers play the Utah Jazz Friday night at the Sports Arena and then face the Jazz Saturday night at Salt Lake City. The Clippers are 1-0 against Utah this season, handing the Jazz a 100-88 loss on Nov. 10 at the Sports Arena. . . . Laker General Manager Jerry West scouted the game.

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