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Clippers in Familiar Position After Loss

Pro basketball: Grizzlies' 97-94 victory moves them ahead of L.A. in battle of teams with worst records in league.

April 22, 1999| From Associated Press

VANCOUVER, Canada — It wasn't the Vancouver Grizzlies' best or sweetest victory of the season, but it at least got them out of the NBA cellar.

Shareef Abdur-Rahim scored 29 points and had a career-high six blocks, including a key rejection with 11 seconds left, to lead the Grizzlies to a 97-94 win over the Clippers in Wednesday night's meeting of the league's two worst teams.

"I was just out there trying to play hard and be aggressive. We got the win. I'm just happy to get the win," Abdur-Rahim said.

The Grizzlies didn't have all that much to celebrate, improving to 8-35 while ending a six-game losing streak and beating the Clippers for the fifth straight time.

"It's just another win. I don't know if it means a whole, whole lot. Two worst teams in the league playing against each other, I don't think it can mean that much," Abdur-Rahim said.

Maurice Taylor had 24 points and 12 rebounds while rookie Michael Olowokandi scored 16 and pulled down a career-high 17 boards for the Clippers (7-35), who had a two-game road winning streak stopped.

The last time the Clippers won three consecutive road games was at the end of the 1996-97 season, when they won a franchise-record four in a row.

After squandering a nine-point fourth-quarter lead, the Grizzlies put the game away by outscoring the Clippers, 5-2, over the final 58 seconds.

Rookie point guard Mike Bibby sank one of two free throws to put Vancouver ahead, 93-92, and then Abdur-Rahim made it a three-point edge when he scored on a open layup after Lamond Murray missed a three-point shot with 37 seconds left.

With Vancouver clinging to a 96-94 lead, Abdur-Rahim got a piece of a Sherman Douglas' three-point attempt.

After Felipe Lopez hit one of two free throws to put Vancouver ahead, 97-94, the Clippers' last chance to tie the game fell short when Troy Hudson missed a three-point shot.

The Clippers lost despite getting off to their best start of the season, hitting 15 of their first 17 shots, including 11 in a row to open the game, for a 36-27 lead.

They couldn't follow it up. The Clippers went 10 for 38 (26%) from the field over the next two quarters as the Grizzlies came from 13 points back to take a 72-70 lead going into the fourth quarter.

"I warned our guys," Clipper Coach Chris Ford said. "We got off to such a good start offensively that things were coming too easy for us."

After going 4-2, the Clippers have lost three straight, all decided by four points or less.

Ford chalked that up to inexperience.

"Us, Denver and the Grizzlies are the youngest teams. That happens. You need veteran players on your roster to help get you through these crunch times," said Ford, whose club went three for seven from the free-throw line in the final 9:34.

DeJuan Wheat had a season-high 11 points.

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