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Clippers Leave the Grizzlies Gloomy

Pro basketball: They defeat Vancouver, 99-92, in double overtime after a lightning strike knocks out the lights.

November 13, 1996|CHRIS BAKER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

VANCOUVER, Canada — The Clippers shot the lights out.

After a lighting strike knocked out the strobe lights that illuminate the basketball court at GM Place with 2:33 remaining in overtime of Tuesday night's game against the Vancouver Grizzlies, leaving the arena in semi-darkness, the Clippers won in double overtime, 99-92, in front of 14,259.

"Have you been to Carson [where the Clippers practice at Veteran's Park]?" asked guard Malik Sealy, who had a team-high 22 points. "The lights are always off at Carson. It's always dark in there.

"We always kid about how dark it is at Carson, and today we had an opportunity to play an actual game in dark light. It kind of had that golden glow of French fries being cooked at Wendy's. You know how they keep the fries warm under those lights?"

After the lightning, the court was illuminated by colored spotlights, lights underneath the scoreboard and several emergency lights.

"They didn't pay for overtime," referee Luis Grillo quipped.

After meeting with the officials, Clipper Coach Bill Fitch and Vancouver Coach Brian Winters decided to proceed.

"I told the guys that we practice in the dark every day, so it's to our advantage," Fitch said.

Said Grillo: "It's a street game now."

The Clippers, who led, 87-84, when the power failed, missed four consecutive shots and the Grizzlies' center, Bryant "Big Country" Reeves, who had a career-high 30 points and 11 rebounds, made three free throws to force a second five-minute overtime period.

The full lighting system, which had to cool down for 15 minutes after the lighting strike, finally came back on with 2:33 remaining in the second overtime, but not before Clipper guard Pooh Richardson made a three-point shot in the gloom with 2:38 left after Rodney Rogers made two free throws.

"It was a little strange, but it's always dark at practice," said Richardson, who had 15 points, six rebounds and four assists.

Sealy made three of four free throws as the Clippers scored the first 10 points in the second overtime to keep the Grizzlies winless in seven games this season.

Neither team shot well in the poor light. Both teams shot 33.3% in the first overtime and 20% in the second overtime.

Trailing, 80-76, after Greg Anthony made a free throw, Sealy, who missed nine of 10 shots in his last game, made a three-pointer from the top of the key with 26 seconds remaining to cut the deficit to one.

The Grizzlies ran the clock down to 13.4 seconds before going inside to Reeves, who was fouled as he went up for a shot by reserve center Stanley Roberts, who fouled out with 15 points and seven rebounds.

After missing his first free throw, Reeves made the second to give Vancouver a two-point lead.

The Clippers used a timeout to set up a play but it didn't work as Lamond Murray misfired on a jumper, but Richardson banked in a follow shot at the end of regulation to send the game into overtime tied at 81-81.

It was redemption for Richardson, who missed a potential game-winning shot at the end of regulation in an 88-81 overtime loss to the New York Knicks last Friday at the Sports Arena.

With the Clippers trailing, 77-72, Charles Outlaw, one of the NBA's poorest free-throw shooters, made two free throws with 1:21 remaining for 77-74, but former Laker Anthony Peeler made a jumper over Sealy to give the Grizzlies a 79-74 lead.

However, Roberts, who started the second half in place of Kevin Duckworth, banked in a shot over Reeves to make it 79-76 with 42 seconds remaining.

The Clippers called time to set up a play after Anthony made a free throw with 36 seconds remaining.

The Clipper reserves were the key, outscoring the Grizzlies reserves, 50-4, as the Clippers overcame a 20-point deficit.

"Our bench has been very good to us all year," Fitch said. "We don't even call it the bench. You know, it's the guys that don't start and they usually finish. In other words, we finished tonight with some of our starters.

"But we've been finishing a lot of games with guys who didn't start the game."

The Clippers finished better than they started, falling behind, 21-4, in the first seven minutes of the game after missing 12 of their first 14 shots.

But in the end, they left the Grizzlies in the dark.

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