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NBA : CLIPPERS FYI

Players confront their loss to Lakers head-on

October 31, 2008|Lisa Dillman | Dillman is a Times staff writer.

There was the tantalizing option of running away, at least mentally, from Wednesday's all-around debacle, a 117-79 loss to the Lakers, which was the Clippers' season opener.

Heaven knows that they would all get another viewing when they got to their practice facility Thursday, from Captain Video, also known as Coach Mike Dunleavy. But Clippers forward Al Thornton wasn't going to run or hide, even for a few hours.

Thornton went home from Staples Center and viewed the game again, saying he stayed up almost the whole night, getting to bed about 4 in the morning.

A scary movie, right?

"Probably even worse because you're embarrassed in front of the whole nation," said Thornton, who had 16 points, going seven for 15 from the field.

That feeling led to a long closed-door team meeting after the game, and new Clipper Baron Davis expressed his anger in no uncertain terms. Thornton did say there were other voices in the discussion.

"We had talked and talked about what kind of identity we have," Thornton said. "What kind of direction we want to go. What kind of purpose? What's our purpose? Who do we want to be as a team?"

There were not many answers for those questions Wednesday.

"It got a little loud," Thornton said of the meeting. "At the end of the day, we all have the same goal. We want to win. It can't be tolerated."

Not by a certain point guard named Baron Davis.

"He's a rowdy little fella," Thornton said. "When he gets [mad], he's pretty fierce."

Was that the case Wednesday in the dressing room?

"Yeah, that's accurate," Thornton said.

Monday, Monday

Marcus Camby, who has been sidelined because of a bruised right heel, took another step in the right direction Thursday. Still, he said he would not play tonight against his former teammates, the Nuggets, aiming for Monday's game against Utah at home.

"Today was my first time in weeks having contact practice and all," Camby said. "For the most part, it felt pretty good till they pulled me out to ice it. I'm definitely just inches away from being out there on the court."

Dunleavy said Camby was "very doubtful" for tonight's game. The main concern is no more setbacks.

"When he's out there, he does so many positive things that we just can't have that missed time," Dunleavy said.

No free meals

When the Nuggets were here last week, Camby ended up picking up the check for dinner, taking out some of the coaches and his close buddy Nene.

"They'll be no dinners tonight," Camby said. "It's for real tomorrow."

The bitterness Camby felt at being traded to the Clippers from Denver in the summer has gradually dissipated, and he was busy telling stories about when he first got to know Nene.

"I remember six years ago, draft night, I got traded, I was bummed out, coming from New York to Denver and we were on a private jet going to Denver for our press conference," Camby said. "And he was all jovial and happy about being in the NBA. I'm just sitting on the plane and thinking, 'Oh I can't believe I'm going from New York to Denver.' Ever since then we developed that bond."

Still, warm sentiment only goes so far in the NBA when they eventually do play against one another. "It won't be tough because I know he'll be trying to take my head off," Camby said, laughing.

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lisa.dillman@latimes.com

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