Clippers' losing streak reaches five games

Team owner Donald Sterling says, 'I don't take losing well,' after Clippers drop to 8-23.

January 01, 2009|Lisa Dillman

Not only did the Clippers' losing streak hit five games, with back-to-back losses to two of the NBA minnows, but the upcoming schedule will take a dramatic, almost alarming, turn in the other direction.

Opponents with winning records all over the place and not an Oklahoma City or Minnesota in sight in early 2009.

And with a small group of fans chanting, "Fire Dunleavy!" near the end of the Clippers' 100-92 loss to Elton Brand-less Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday night, there really was only one viable option.

Talk to Donald.

That would be Clippers owner Donald Sterling, who was understandably distraught sitting courtside at Staples Center, watching his team dissolve in a barrage of mental mistakes down the stretch.

After all, it should have been a festive night for an NBA owner, a home game on New Year's Eve. It was anything but as the Clippers had 18 turnovers on the way to their 23rd loss in 31 games and watched Andre Iguodala and his 28 points lead Philadelphia to its first win in five games.

The 76ers did it without former Clipper Brand, who is out because of a dislocated shoulder.

"Not one of my better nights," Sterling said in a brief chat with a couple of reporters in the corridor. "I don't take losing well."

His face was showing the distress of an eight-win season.

And that was that.

For the record, he didn't have to stop and say anything about the disaster of a season or the coaching future of Mike Dunleavy, who also holds the position of general manager.

Sterling is aware of the litany of injuries. And it doesn't appear as though there will be relief on that front any time soon in terms of big men Chris Kaman or Zach Randolph returning.

Dunleavy spoke of "mental errors." That mostly would take the form of turnovers.

"To be honest with you, we had 17 or 18 turnovers and they scored 25 points off that," forward Al Thornton said. "That's the game right there, you know what I'm saying. That's it. I don't think this game is about closing out, it's about us taking care of the ball."

At least the Clippers could say they put 2008 in the rearview mirror.

"We've got to put it past us and hopefully get on a nice little winning streak," said Marcus Camby, who had one of his trademark hard-working, double-double games, scoring 16 points and grabbing 17 rebounds.

"The new year . . . all I wish is that we could have some guys out there. We need a little help out there battling."

Battle they did. Dunleavy was assessed a technical foul in the first quarter, as was Baron Davis (11 points) in the third quarter and Thornton (24 points) in the fourth. It was Dunleavy's third technical in the last three games. Thornton's came with 15 seconds remaining.

"I got hit. I got fouled really hard and was frustrated," he said. "We're not getting respect. Until we start changing some of that, it's going to be that way."

Camby concurred.

"The referees sometimes look at our record and we're not getting the respect that we deserve out there," he said. "The coach is doing all he can do from the sideline and stuff like that.

"But until we start winning ballgames, and start being aggressive and making plays, the whistle is not going to be on our side."


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