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Celtics Overwhelm the Clippers With Strong Front-Line Play, 124-108

April 05, 1989|SCOTT HOWARD-COOPER | Times Staff Writer

A local television station planning a profile of Don Casey figured it would be interesting to have the gregarious Clipper coach wear a microphone during Tuesday night's game.

Good thought, bad timing.

After a 124-108 loss to the Boston Celtics before a sellout crowd of 15,352 at the Sports Arena, there may not be much audio tape that can be salvaged.

"I hope they edit some of that stuff out, or I'll get in trouble with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes," he said.

Casey will, however, give prime-time consideration to the Celtics, who took command of the game early and never let up in winning for the 10th time in 14 games. Boston is no longer a serious threat to win the National Basketball Assn. title, but it still has some highlights to reel off.

"I think Boston is getting set for playoff time," Casey said after the Clippers dropped their second straight and fell to 17-55 overall. ". . . I think they're coming along. I see them as a legitimate bother to some teams in the playoffs."

Indeed, the front-line play of Reggie Lewis (27 points), Kevin McHale (21 points, four blocked shots) and Robert Parish (19 points) was convincing. To the Clippers, though, it was overwhelming.

"The Celtics are going to be OK," Clipper guard Quintin Dailey said. "They have a good front line, and Reggie has turned into a hell of a small forward. I'd tell people to watch out for them."

The Clippers, who got 28 points and 10 rebounds from Benoit Benjamin and 22 points and 10 assists from Gary Grant, supposedly were on the look-out. It just didn't do any good.

Boston (38-34) built a 20-point lead, 52-32, with 4:03 to play in the second quarter when Parish made a jump hook over Benjamin. The Clippers cut it to 15 by halftime, 61-46. By then, the Celtics had all 10 of their blocked shots.

They remained in control throughout the third quarter, too, pushing the lead to 69-48 with 9:36 to play on a layup by Brian Shaw. That capped an 11-4 run for the Celtics, who have beaten the Clippers by a combined 51 points in the two meetings this season.

Boston has 10 consecutive victories over the Clippers, who have yet to beat the Celtics since moving from San Diego to Los Angeles before the 1984-85 season.

Clipper Notes

Final tests will be taken Friday to determine if Charles Smith needs arthroscopic surgery on his left knee, which has bothered him since a sprain put him on the injured list Nov. 29. "It had been nagging me and now it's kicking up a bit," he said. "I must have done something to it." Even if tests show that Smith, a probable selection to the league's all-rookie team, does not require the relatively minor surgery, a long layoff will be forthcoming. "I'm going to stay off it for about two months whether I get scoped or not," he said. Smith has played 42 consecutive games, starting 34 of them, but would have taken some time off recently if Joe Wolf, another forward, had not been knocked out of the lineup three games ago with a strained right elbow. "It feels weak a lot," Smith said. "From compensating for it by the way I run, I sprained the big toe. If Joe was here, I'd sit out. Not the rest of the year, but a game or two to get it some rest and treatment and to get the inflammation down."

Guard Reggie Williams, who missed the last six games with a sprained left thumb, is expected to return Thursday when the Clippers play Portland in the Sports Arena. . . . Rookie Gary Grant, who played at the University of Michigan, watched the Wolverines win the National Collegiate Athletic Assn. title Monday night from his home in Palos Verdes. "I didn't cry, but I had chills," the Clipper guard said. "It was a happy moment. I wish I was there." Grant, who called Michigan Coach Steve Fisher Tuesday in Ann Arbor to offer congratulations, said he plans to visit his former teammates after the National Basketball Assn. season ends later this month. "I might ask if I can wear one of the championship rings around for about week," he said. . . . The latest endorsement for Don Casey to be made the Clippers' permanent coach comes from Detroit guard Isiah Thomas, who said after the 117-101 Piston victory Sunday in the Sports Arena: "He's got these guys playing hard. . . . They should stick with him and let this young team and him grow together into something really powerful.". . . The Clippers finished 6-7 in March, their best record in any month since going 7-9 in January of 1986.

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