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Norman Suffers Bad Sprain; Clippers Win


Another Clipper, this time Ken Norman, took a crutch-aided walk out of the locker room Wednesday night, but the medical reports were relatively upbeat.

With a team for whom hyper-extensions and sprained knees have turned into career-threatening reconstructive surgeries in each of the past two seasons, the worst was feared.

But by night's end, after the Clippers had disposed of the New Jersey Nets, 99-90, before 10,335 at the Sports Arena, it appeared there wouldn't be a lengthy stay on the injured list for Norman, their leading scorer in six of the previous nine games.

X-rays showed Norman suffered only a severe ankle sprain, only being a relative term. Team physician Tony Daly said Norman could be out anywhere from one to four weeks.

"It ballooned up right away," Daly said. "It swelled up so fast."

Norman, a fourth-year forward, gave only an expressionless nod when asked if he landed wrong while catching a pass near the Clipper basket in the first quarter, but said nothing more as he was taken out of the arena on a golf cart, bound for Saint John's Hospital in Santa Monica.

"He's hurting pretty good," Daly said.

The Clippers, having reached .500 at 5-5 after opening 2-4, avoided additional pain by struggling to beat the Nets, who extended their NBA record for consecutive road losses to 34. Charles Smith led the way with 34 points, 10 rebounds and five blocked shots.

The Nets came to town newly crowned record-setters, much to their dismay, and showed little sign early of shaking the title.

Tuesday night's loss at Seattle was the 33rd in a row away from the Meadowlands, dating to Dec. 19, 1989, breaking a mark that had stood since 1953-54. But feeling the part?

Not on the surface, at least.

"The real fact is that there's somebody out there 3-30 on the road," Coach Bill Fitch reasoned. "A lot of teams. We, for all general purposes, are there (ready to win). Anybody who saw the Philadelphia game knows that. I'm more concerned with 2-8."

Losers of eight of its first 10, New Jersey had a chance to beat the 76ers at the Spectrum in the second game of the season. They would have, too, if not for a goaltending call at the buzzer against Derrick Coleman.

At the Sports Arena, where they had dropped four of the last five, the Nets fell behind by at the end of the first quarter, 29-18, and 13 early in the second, 33-20.

From there, things changed dramatically, New Jersey going on a 12-0 run and the Clippers being held without a point for 5:22.

Before Winston Garland finally broke the drought with a 12-footer along the left baseline, the Clippers' lead had been cut to 33-32. The Net gains were obvious, and, as would be proved, well supported.

By halftime, New Jersey was ahead, 44-41, thanks in large part to another in-offensive showing by the Clippers. They went the final 2:12 before intermission without scoring, rolling up a 12-point quarter one game after having an 11-point second period.

The finishing touch was being booed off the court heading into the locker room. It was the least of their concerns.

Clipper Notes

As of Sunday, Loy Vaught was second among rookies in rebounding, trailing only New Jersey's Derrick Coleman, and Bo Kimble was fourth in scoring, behind Willie Burton of Miami, Lionel Simmons of Sacramento and Coleman. Said Net Coach Bill Fitch of Coleman, the No. 1 draft pick who went into Wednesday's game averaging 14.6 points and 9.7 rebounds: "When you're a big man, you are thrown more into things than a guard rookie. You are in the pits, right there with the elbows, and he has more than held his own." . . . Apparent reason behind Bo Kimble being held out of Sunday's game against Seattle: He missed the team flight the day before from Phoenix. He returned to the starting lineup Wednesday night and had 19 points and four steals.

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