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Clippers are ripe for picking at end

They rally from an 11-point deficit but a three-point basket by Mason with 8.4 seconds left lifts the Spurs.

November 18, 2008|Lisa Dillman | Dillman is a Times staff writer.

Suddenly, the missed cues and miscues vanished in a late, inspired run against the San Antonio Spurs.

And if that sounds as though the Clippers doubled their win total, well, that would be wildly optimistic.

They lost for the ninth time in 10 games this season, just in a different, more creative manner. Guard Roger Mason made a three-point basket with 8.4 seconds remaining to give the Spurs an 86-83 victory against the Clippers on Monday night at Staples Center.

It was Mason's third three-pointer of the game. He finished with a game-high 21 points and helped the Spurs survive after having blown an 11-point lead with 6 minutes 45 seconds remaining.

Clippers Coach Mike Dunleavy spoke about the Spurs' final shot.

"They came up with a pick. Unfortunately for us, the defense was not in front of me at the time," he said. "The building was pretty loud at the time. The ball should've been kept on that side. They had that left side loaded up. We should've forced it. We got picked in the back and Mason was wide open."

A three-point shot by Baron Davis of the Clippers missed as time expired.

"We were trying to get basically misdirection and getting me coming off the wing for a three," Davis said. "I thought they read it right. When I caught the ball, I had two guys on me and almost a second and a half to get a shot up. Tim Duncan, one of the best defenders, was standing in your face.

"It's pretty hard to do that. "

Davis finished with 11 points, though five of those came in the final quarter.

Davis didn't just struggle from three-point range, the way he did Saturday against the Golden State Warriors. Through three quarters against the Spurs, he was three for 12 from the field.

In all, he missed all eight of his three-point attempts, and the Clippers were merely three for 16 (18.8%) from that range. The Spurs shot 40%.

San Antonio, without guards Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, has won its last nine games against the Clippers. In addition to Mason's output, Duncan had 20 points and 15 rebounds and Michael Finley scored 19 points.

Said Davis: "We thought we had a chance to get this, with two of their top three players out. We thought if we can come with intensity and the focus to play, we'd be able to pull it out."

For the Clippers, Cuttino Mobley had 18 points and Chris Kaman had 17 points and 13 rebounds.

"The biggest factor to me was the shot selection," Dunleavy said. "I thought our shot selection -- we probably had 10 bad shots in this game tonight. We can't give that many possessions away and expect to win."

The Clippers had spoken about wanting to hover around .500 after an especially rugged early schedule against the (mostly) elite of the West.

Hovering remains a lofty goal. Sinking seems to be the operative word for the Clippers. But their next opponent is Oklahoma City, which has won once in 11 games.

Still, nearly everything that could go wrong has gone awry for the Clippers: Injuries, a lack of chemistry and the surfacing of what was described last week as a disconnect between Dunleavy and the star player, Davis.

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lisa.dillman@latimes.com

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