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PHOENIX 142, CLIPPERS 119

Clippers' loss to Phoenix is more garden-variety than humiliating

The home defeat follows huge road loss to Suns. Zach Randolph is suspended for two games. Amare Stoudemire scores 42 for Phoenix.

February 19, 2009|Lisa Dillman

So much for keeping it under 140 points.

The bar certainly was not set high at all -- underground, perhaps? -- about 24 hours after abject humiliation in Phoenix when the Clippers lost by 40 points, giving up 140 to the Suns without the services of Zach Randolph for most of the game and Marcus Camby, who did not make the trip.

One night later, the outcome remained the same and the search for more descriptive terms slightly more difficult. The Clippers suffered a garden-variety loss as the Suns won, 142-119, on Wednesday night at Staples Center, led by Amare Stoudemire's 42 points and 11 rebounds.

"They'd better keep him," said the Clippers' Al Thornton, of the All-Star forward who had been the topic of intense trade rumors.

Losing by 23 almost seems run-of-the-mill for the Clippers (13-42). They got 33 points from Thornton and 23 more from rookie Eric Gordon, but again were without Camby (ear infection) and Randolph (suspension) and an injured Brian Skinner.

Thornton suffered a strained right arch in the second half, saying he landed wrong after a dunk, but he was able to come back.

The Suns didn't match the 140-point mark until reserve Goran Dragic hit a three-pointer with 55 seconds remaining

This wasn't quite like Tuesday's spectacular flop. One Clippers player assessed the current state of the team, using an unprintable word in reference to the blowout at Phoenix.

There were lasting reverberations from the game, and not just the ones suffered by the Suns' Louis Amundson's face when the Clippers' Randolph smacked him with an open hand, leading to Randolph's ejection in the first quarter.

Randolph earned a two-game suspension without pay from the league, which handed down the decision earlier Wednesday. He was not at Staples Center, nor would he allowed to have been on hand because of the suspension. Instead, Randolph was back home in Indiana, attending to a family emergency.

Clippers Coach Mike Dunleavy, while not condoning Randolph's action, gave some insight into his player's frame of mind. Apparently Randolph learned his father was critically ill shortly before the game in Phoenix.

"Obviously you don't want anybody doing that," Dunleavy said. "But he found out before the game, literally in the locker room before the game, about his dad.

"He was trying to figure out if he could play in last night's game, or tonight's game."

Randolph was able to get back to Indianapolis, which is where his father is hospitalized. He spoke on the telephone to Dunleavy and apologized after the suspension was handed down.

"He said to me, 'Coach, I'm sorry. I had a lot going through my head,' " Dunleavy said.

Suns interim coach Alvin Gentry, a former Clippers coach, called it an "unfortunate incident," but he was aware of Randolph's family crisis and expressed his concern. Gentry, who took over the Suns on Monday, is 2-0, both wins coming against the Clippers.

"I know Zach has other problems that he is dealing with now. . . . When you find out someone you love is suffering from a terminal [condition] . . . " Gentry said.

As for Amundson, he expected Randolph would get some form of discipline. They were going at each other before the incident, which escalated when Randolph pushed Amundson to the floor. Then came the smack.

"I knew he'd be suspended, so I'm not surprised," Amundson said. "It's not my call, but he definitely deserved it."

Said Randolph, of the play, to reporters Tuesday: "He hopped up and got up in my face and almost kissed me in my mouth."

Amundson, on Wednesday, joked about Randolph's comment.

"I should have gave him a little kiss on the nose," he said. "I'll blow him a kiss."

Etc.

The NBA's trade deadline is today, and the Clippers were indicating that nothing was imminent.

One team official thought the chances of anything happening was about 20% to 30%.

The Clippers have maintained they have not been ordered to dump salaries, unlike other teams around the league, because it also appears as though the salary cap will drop next season.

"As of right now, that is not the position I'm in," said Dunleavy, who is also the team's general manager. "We talked to the owner and he basically said, 'Make basketball decisions.'

"Now if something comes up that we think fills both needs, that could happen. We've had a lot of opportunities to dump salaries, and we passed on them."

--

lisa.dillman@latimes.com

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