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Harper, Wilkins Play Like Lifelong Friends : Pro basketball: They combine for 70 points as the Clippers hold off the Mavericks, 116-110.


DALLAS — Ron Harper still misses his good friend Danny Manning, but he hasn't taken long to adjust to playing with Dominique Wilkins.

Wilkins and Harper have only been playing together for nine days, but you wouldn't know it from watching them on the court.

Harper scored 36 points and Wilkins got 34 as the Clippers beat the Dallas Mavericks, 116-110, Tuesday night before an announced crowd of 10,784 at Reunion Arena. The victory lifted the Clippers out of a last-place Pacific Division tie with the Sacramento Kings.

"They're fun to watch out there together," Clipper Coach Bob Weiss said of Wilkins and Harper. "They seem to have a good flow with each other."

Harper scored 13 points in the fourth quarter as the Clippers held off the Mavericks after squandering a 18-point first-half lead. Harper, who wasn't in uniform for the last two games because of a strained left hamstring, made 11 of 22 shots and 14 of 17 free throws. He also had eight rebounds, four blocked shots and two assists.

"They feed off each other," forward Harold Ellis said of Harper and Wilkins. "It's like a competition."

Wilkins, who made nine of 23 shots in last Saturday's 17-point loss at Houston after suffering a sprained left wrist, made 11 of 23 shots, including three three-pointers. He also had eight rebounds and four assists as the Clippers beat the Mavericks for the 10th game in a row.

"It's fun playing with (Harper)," Wilkins said. "When you're a player, it isn't that hard to adjust to somebody else's game, you just have to come out and play."

Acquired from the Atlanta Hawks on Feb. 24 for Manning, Wilkins has averaged 30.5 points in six games as a Clipper.

Harper, who has declined public comment since he was suspended for one game by the Clippers on Feb. 17 for making negative statements about the team, has averaged 24.5 points in eight games since the suspension. It was the third time that he has scored 30 or more points since he returned to the team.

Wilkins, in the final year of a contract that pays him a reported $3.5 million, and Harper, who earns $4 million, could both become unrestricted free agents at the end of the season.

But they are handling it differently.

"We talk, we talk all the time and I tell him, 'You ain't going nowhere, so shut up and keep quiet,' " Wilkins said of Harper. "He's in the same situation that I'm in. He's a free agent at the end of the year, and he's trying to accomplish something.

"I don't worry about it. When I step on the floor, it's all about business to me, I don't worry about anything else.

"I could go off about the trade and get angry. . . . I'm angry in my own way, but I don't bring it to my place of work. I let it stay at home or inside me where nobody knows. . . . But that just makes me want to play that much harder. That's the attitude I want to take."

The game matched two of the NBA's worst teams. The Mavericks have the worst record (8-51) in the NBA and the Clippers brought the NBA's sixth worst record (now 20-38) into the game, losing nine of their first 12 games after the All-Star break.

Leading by 11 points with 10:08 remaining, the Clippers were outscored, 16-5, as Dallas took a 100-99 lead on a basket by guard Jim Jackson, who had a season-high 31 points.

However, Harper, who made four of six shots in the fourth quarter, scored nine points and set up another with a steal as the Clippers outscored the Mavericks, 17-10, in the final four minutes.

Clipper Notes

It was the first time that the Clippers have had two players score 30 or more points in a game this season. . . . Guard Mark Jackson declined comment after being held out of the game in the fourth quarter. It was the second time in the last week that Jackson, who had four points, four rebounds and six assists against Dallas, was benched for the last quarter as Coach Bob Weiss used guard Gary Grant. . . . Forward Tom Tolbert sat out his fifth game in a row because of a strained back. . . . Charles Outlaw, who signed for the remainder of the season on Monday, started at forward in place of Loy Vaught, sidelined because of a hip injury. Outlaw had nine points and a game-high nine rebounds. . . . Maverick rookie forward Jamal Mashburn suffered a strained left hip.

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