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Clippers' Latest Loss Very Disappointing for the Lakers Too

Pro basketball: Kings prevail, 116-109, in overtime, keeping the Pacific Division lead to themselves.


SACRAMENTO — The Clippers almost gave the Lakers an early Christmas present Tuesday night.

With a chance to help the Lakers move into a first-place tie in the Pacific Division, the Clippers forced the Sacramento Kings into overtime for the second time this season at Arco Arena.

But faulty shooting and turnovers did the Clippers in as the Kings pulled away in overtime to win, 116-109, before 17,317.

Lamar Odom made two free throws with 5.5 seconds left to tie the game in regulation before the Clippers ran out of steam to drop to 3-10 in overtime games this season. Their 13 overtime games are one shy of matching the most in league history.

Chris Webber finished with 31 points and 11 rebounds, Predrag Stojakovic added 27 and 10, and Vlade Divac finished with 20 and 10 to lead the Kings (53-24).

The Clippers, who rallied from a 11-point, second-half deficit, were led by Odom's 20 points and 10 rebounds. Point guard Jeff McInnis finished with 16 points, including 12 in the third quarter, and 10 assists. Corey Maggette (16 points and six rebounds) and Darius Miles (14 and nine) also had strong games off the bench.

"We played such a good game," McInnis said. "We came back in the third quarter and I thought we had control of the game. But then the next thing I know, Sean Rooks was getting tossed. That gave them momentum and we never really got it back."

When Rooks was ejected, the Clippers were ahead, 93-91, with 8:40 left in the fourth quarter. Rooks had attempted to foul Webber before he shot a layup but official Scott Fraser allowed the basket to count. After Sacramento made three free throws, the Arco Arena capacity crowd gave the Kings a boost and they stretched their lead to 98-93 before the Clippers knew what hit them.

The Kings, 8-4 in overtime games, definitely had all they could handle with the Clippers. After falling behind by five points, the Clippers regrouped and had a rally of their own. They tied at 102-102 with 3:28 remaining and battled the Kings even the rest of regulation.

Odom, who struggled throughout the game with Sacramento's aggressive trapping defense, responded to score the Clippers' final seven points to force overtime.

"They won the game because they played better in overtime," said Miles, who also had four blocked shots. "The crowd really didn't matter to us. We are the ones who messed up."

For Coach Alvin Gentry, the defeat followed a pattern he has seen too often this season.

"This seems like the 97th overtime game we've played," he said. "But again, we didn't do a good job of executing in overtime. That's been our problem throughout the year. We get to a certain point of doing all the things we are supposed to do over the course of a game, then we get into overtime and then decide to go off on our own."

In a game featuring 27 lead changes and 10 ties, the Clippers and Kings put on a show that would answer critics who claim the NBA is no longer fun to watch.

With Miles and Maggette making high-flying plays above the rim and Eric Piatkowski (18 points) making three-point shots, the Clippers surely played hard.

But in the end, Sacramento had too much teamwork and the Kings showed why they are headed to the playoffs and the Clippers aren't.

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