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CLIPPERS 97, WASHINGTON 95

Clippers put on their rally caps in victory

They overcome a 17-point third-quarter deficit to beat the Wizards, 97-95, with Eric Gordon scoring 29 points.

December 15, 2009|By Jim Peltz | On The Clippers

With less than three minutes left in the third quarter, Clippers point guard Baron Davis made a perfect bounce pass under the basket to center Chris Kaman, who promptly dunked.

At the time, the basket merely pulled the Clippers, who had trailed by 17 about three minutes earlier, to within seven points of the Washington Wizards. But it proved to be a spark the team badly needed.

The Clippers eventually mounted a 17-2 run that helped them edge Washington, 97-95, Monday night in front of 14,511 at Staples Center, snapping the Clippers' two-game losing streak and handing Washington its fifth consecutive loss.

With less than 15 seconds left in the game and the Clippers seemingly in command, Wizards forward Caron Butler made a three-pointer to cut a 96-92 Clippers lead to 96-95 with 11.8 seconds left.

Eric Gordon made one of two free throws to put the Clippers up by two, then Washington guard Earl Boykins turned the ball over before the Wizards could get up a possible tying or go-ahead shot.

"Our guys stayed in it and we took care of the ball much better" in the second half, said Clippers Coach Mike Dunleavy.

Gordon led the Clippers with 29 points in the teams' first meeting of the season, while Kaman -- who came alive offensively in the second half -- scored 23. Reserve forward Rasual Butler had 15 points.

"We need someone coming off the bench, and I feel comfortable in that role," he said.

Now the Clippers embark on a six-game trip, one of their longest this season. It starts Wednesday in Minnesota and ends Christmas Day at Phoenix.

The win "builds confidence going out on the road, and we needed that," Kaman said.

Referring to the Clippers' lackluster first half, he added, "We've been starting slow a little bit lately, we're not ready right out of the gate. But the good thing is we were able to finish strong."

Both teams looked distinctly like their sub-.500 records in the first half, with the Clippers shooting 39% from the field and scoring only 39 points.

The Wizards' shooting was even worse, 34%, but they managed 44 points in the half. Then they started the third quarter with a 20-8 run that extended their lead to 64-47.

Antawn Jamison led Washington with 32 points, while Caron Butler had 20 and guard Gilbert Arenas scored 16.

Neither team looked especially sharp early in the game. The Wizards shot only 34.6% in the first quarter yet still managed to take a 25-21 lead into the second quarter.

Etc.

Baron Davis started and scored 14 points even though Dunleavy said before the opening tip that the point guard was "still feeling under the weather."

"This morning at the shoot-around he really didn't walk through it," Dunleavy said. "So we'll see [and] take his -- I guess literally -- take his temperature and see how he feels."

A few minutes later, Davis said "I'm feeling much better" as he rushed through the Clippers' locker room.

That was evident as Davis played almost 39 minutes against the Wizards. However, he made only two of 14 field-goal attempts.

Davis did not start Sunday's game against the San Antonio Spurs because of stomach problems, but came off the bench to score 20 points.

james.peltz@latimes.com

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