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Ailing Clippers Get Clocked in Houston : Pro basketball: Big deficit combined with injuries to Wilkins, Harper and Vaught too much in 124-107 loss.

March 06, 1994|CHRIS BAKER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

HOUSTON — As a worker tried to repair a malfunctioning 24-second clock atop the Clipper basket before Saturday night's game against the Houston Rockets, Clipper Coach Bob Weiss quipped: "If it takes long enough, we might have some guys get healthy."

Although his team had only nine fit players, at least Weiss didn't lose his sense of humor after watching his team fall behind by 28 points and lose, 124-107, before a crowd of 15,009 at the Summit.

"Except for the offense, defense, rebounding and the turnovers, we had a good game," Weiss said after the Clippers (19-38) lost for the ninth time in their last 11 games.

Weiss probably wouldn't have minded if they had played the game with a running clock.

Keith Jones, the Clipper trainer, was the hardest working man on the team because he was busy treating the injuries that sidelined two starters and hampered All-Star forward Dominique Wilkins.

Guard Ron Harper, the Clippers' second leading scorer who missed his second game in a row because of a strained left hamstring, did color commentary with Clipper broadcaster Ralph Lawler. Forward Loy Vaught, the Clippers' leading rebounder, missed the game because of a hip injury and reserve forward Tom Tolbert sat out his second straight game because of a back injury.

Wilkins almost didn't play after spraining his left wrist and thumb when he caught the thumb in the jersey of Spur forward J.R. Reid as they were fighting for position in the third quarter of Friday night's 121-113 loss at San Antonio.

"Last night I couldn't even sleep," Wilkins said. "My hand was throbbing. I couldn't grip onto anything. It's almost like a dislocation."

Wilkins had Jones tape his wrist and decided to play after testing it before the game, but he said the tape, which was wrapped around his thumb and wrist, was too restrictive and played most of the game with only his wrist taped.

Wilkins, who had averaged 32.3 points and shot 53.3% in his first four games with the Clippers, made only nine of 23 shots and scored 20 points in 31 minutes as the Rockets double-teamed him.

"It was hurting real bad," Wilkins said after the game. "I couldn't get comfortable where I could put my shoulder down and go to the bucket. I retaped it, but it was still sore. I couldn't get a fluid motion on my shots. My shots were going off to the left.

"It's very easy to sit down and watch the game from the sideline, but that ain't me. If I can help, I'm going to be there. I'm not going to let the guys go to war by themselves, I'm going to be with them."

Weiss inserted rookie forward Charles Outlaw in place of Vaught and rookie guard Terry Dehere, who scored a season-high 17 points against the Spurs, for Harper.

Outlaw, who will be signed for the rest of the season after his second 10-day contract expires today, had season-highs of 17 points and 11 rebounds, but Dehere missed 12 of 15 shots and scored only seven points.

Only 24 hours after watching San Antonio center David Robinson get 41 points, 16 rebounds and eight assists against them, the Clippers faced Rocket center Hakeem Olajuwon, who maintains that he deserves the NBA MVP award this season after finishing second to Charles Barkley last season.

Olajuwon finished with 30 points, 12 rebounds, five assists and three blocked shots.

Clipper Notes

Forward Loy Vaught, who injured his left hip Friday night at San Antonio, thinks he might miss an extended period. If Vaught is put on the injured list, the Clippers will probably activate center Bob Martin, who was put on the injured list on Feb. 14 with a strained abdominal muscle. . . . Ron Harper, who hasn't talked to the media since being suspended for one game for making negative remarks about the team, said during the radio broadcast that he hopes to play in Tuesday night's game at Dallas. "I think five days off is enough," Harper said.

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