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Clippers Noisy, but Lose

February 08, 1996|CHRIS BAKER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Center Brian Williams felt so frustrated that he could scream after the Houston Rockets extended the Clippers' losing streak to seven games with a 110-102 victory Wednesday night before an announced crowd of 6,440 at the Sports Arena.

After reviewing a statistics sheet, Williams walked back into the shower room and unleashed an ear-splitting scream.

"I felt like screaming and I did, many times," Williams said. "You can't help but look in the mirror and look at myself. Missed opportunities. The world champs aren't going to give you many opportunities. They gave us some tonight."

But the Clippers failed to capitalize.

The Clippers, who trailed by 20 points in the third quarter, cut it to 103-101 but were outscored, 7-1, in the final 1:52. The Clippers had only one field goal in the final 6:52.

Trailing by two points after Rodney Rogers made a three-point shot with 1:52 left, they had a chance to tie it when Williams, who had 16 points and 12 rebounds, stole an inbounds pass underneath the Rocket basket.

But Rocket guard Clyde Drexler stole a pass from Pooh Richardson, who had a season-high 31 points, four shy of his career high, and set up Eldridge Recasner for a dunk with 1:21 remaining to give the Rockets a 105-101 lead. Center Hakeem Olajuwon blocked a shot by Williams and sank a jumper with 41 seconds left for a 107-101 edge.

"I saw that Bo [Outlaw] was open for a split second," Richardson said. "I don't know where Clyde came from. I tried to throw it in there quick and he got a hand on it."

Olajuwon had 26 points and 16 rebounds and Drexler had 28 points, eight rebounds and eight assists as the Rockets ended a two-game losing streak.

Guard Terry Dehere, who missed seven of eight shots in the first half, made four of five shots and scored 10 points in the first five minutes of the final quarter as the Clippers outscored the Rockets, 27-13, during a run at the end of the third quarter and the start of the fourth to cut it to 100-97.

Dehere, who had 19 points in 31 minutes, made a spectacular save of a pass that was headed out of bounds after Outlaw blocked a shot by Olajuwon, calling a timeout just before falling out of bounds with 6:05 remaining.

The Clippers, who've had at least one player out because of injury or illness in every game this season, were without forward Loy Vaught, their leading scorer and rebounder, at the start of the game.

Vaught, who had started every game this season, was sidelined because of back spasms. Lamond Murray, shooting 27.6% in his last 10 games, replaced Vaught, starting for the first time in seven games.

Murray failed to break out of his shooting slump, missing six of seven shots, including back-to-back shots in the final quarter with the Clippers trailing by three. After missing a jumper, Murray missed a dunk. He finished with three points and one rebound in 21 minutes.

Vaught, whose sore back forced him to go to the locker room at the start of overtime in Monday night's loss to the Golden State Warriors, replaced Murray with 6:59 remaining in the first quarter and started the third quarter.

Vaught missed four of five shots in 22 minutes, getting two points and four rebounds.

The rash of injuries has caught Clipper Coach Bill Fitch off guard.

"Never, never in my life have I seen anything like this," Fitch said of the Clippers, who've lost 78 manpower games because of injury.

"We're fragile. They never got to play together. Injuries are part of the NBA, but it borders on the ridiculous for us right now.

Drexler, who had 24 points, 13 rebounds, seven assists and a season-high seven steals in Tuesday night's 99-94 loss at Seattle, made seven of eight shots and scored 20 points as the Rockets took a 66-50 halftime lead.

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