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Clippers Don't Win, but Still Exact a Toll : Pro basketball: Jones was fired before L.A.'s game at Seattle. Brown is fired before Spurs' 114-100 victory.

January 22, 1992|SCOTT HOWARD-COOPER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SAN ANTONIO — Look out, Don Chaney. The Clippers are coming, leaving a trail of coaches in their wake.

Last Wednesday, K.C. Jones was fired by the Seattle SuperSonics, the day before facing the Clippers. Tuesday, Larry Brown was fired here, hours before the Spurs scored a 114-100 victory over the Clippers at HemisFair Arena.

Now the Clippers go to Houston, where Chaney, their former coach, waits. There has been no indication that he won't be around for tip-off. But who knows?

The Clippers' coach, Mike Schuler, has troubles of his own.

The Clippers arrived here Monday with plans to practice. But the players didn't want to practice.

So the Clippers--not given a vote but taking one anyway--did not practice.

They passed a motion, 11-0 (injured Doc Rivers is not with the team) and said it was a tribute as part of Martin Luther King Day. Problem was, Schuler didn't ask the players for their thoughts on the matter. The first Schuler heard of it was when team captain Danny Manning called him shortly after the team checked in at the hotel.

The National Basketball Players Assn., which provides for practice and travel guidelines on Christmas and New Year's, has no such conditions for King Day. So Clipper players--aware or not that seven games were scheduled Monday and that the Spurs practiced--took the initiative.

Schuler was not amused. Furious was how some described him.

"Extremely disappointed," was how Schuler put it.

By any adjective, the players either had more conviction about the memory of King than the other teams in the league or brushed aside the authority of their coach. Schuler, perhaps in the unenviable position of forcing an issue based largely on emotion, did not threaten punishment.

"That was not necessarily an option from what I was told," Schuler said. "It was, 'We're not going to practice. We're not going to practice and we voted 11-0 to not practice in honor of Martin Luther King Day.' "

So the Clippers did not practice.

"He was going crazy at shoot-around (Tuesday) morning," one player said of Schuler. "That was the first time he saw everybody since it happened. You could tell he was mad."

The Clippers got an emotional lift with the return of Charles Smith, who had sat out two games because of a strained shoulder muscle. But Smith finished one of seven with four rebounds in 23 minutes.

Afterward, Smith came out of the locker room after Schuler spoke to the team and went back on the court with strength and conditioning coordinator Carl Horne. Smith spent 27 minutes in an impromptu workout, shooting from various areas and running. Back in the locker room, he declined comment.

The Spurs, who had six players in double figures but none score more than 17 points, shot 55.6% for interim Coach Bob Bass as the Clippers fell to 20-21.

"It was a very emotional game for him because he was good friends with Coach Brown," Spur guard Willie Anderson said of Bass. "We could tell he was nervous. We took a lot off him by winning."

Clipper Notes

Bo Kimble, on being told by Mike Schuler to shoot his first free throw right-handed Friday against Atlanta, despite Kimble's plan to shoot the first home free throw of every season left-handed in honor of Hank Gathers: "It took away a little bit of the spirit of what I wanted to do. But I still was able to pay the tribute, and that's what matters." Said Schuler: "I'm sure it's something he feels very strongly about. It was a situation where I had not told him he could not do that, but sometimes every point is very, very important."

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