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Clippers step back again

March 01, 2009|Lisa Dillman

One step forward, two back and another one back.

Sounds like some sort of eye-catching dance move, say, rookie point guard Mike Taylor might break out in the locker room.

It also is an accurate way of describing the Clippers' recent run of form.

Take this week. There was their season-savoring win against the Celtics on Wednesday, an often-frightful showing on Friday at Sacramento (that counts as two big steps back) and a week-ending clunker on Saturday night against the Bobcats.

The Clippers squandered a 15-point second-quarter lead, went into a third-quarter lull and finished with a futile dive at the tape in Charlotte's 100-95 victory at Staples Center.

But even so, the Clippers had a chance to push the game into overtime when Al Thornton came up with a steal with 20.9 seconds left with the Bobcats leading, 98-95. But Thornton's long bomb, a 26-footer, went for naught with 3.9 seconds left.

"I had a good look. When it left my hands I thought the game was going OT," said Thornton, who had 16 points, playing on a sore right foot.

"But sometimes you don't get that bounce."

Zach Randolph was the game's leading scorer with 33 points and had nine rebounds for the Clippers. He called the loss difficult.

"We gave the game away," Randolph said. "We didn't get enough defensive stops."

So much for a redeeming way to end the week.

Emeka Okafor led Charlotte with 28 points and Raja Bell scored 21.

The Clippers continued their run of ill-timed injuries. Not that there's ever a good time for an injury, of course.

"We get one guy back and two guys leave," said Clippers Coach Mike Dunleavy.

Or one win and two losses.

The two losses after the Celtics game have one thing in common: no Eric Gordon on the court at Sacramento or at Staples Center against the Bobcats.

The star rookie guard suffered a bruised left shoulder early in the third quarter against Boston. Since Jan. 1, Gordon has averaged 20.3 points, more than any other rookie.

The Clippers also were without guards Fred Jones, who has a sore lower back, and Mardy Collins, who is suffering from plantar fasciitis of his right foot. Collins' absence especially hurt because he would have been on Boris Diaw, Dunleavy said. Diaw scored 15 points.

"The Clippers have been playing well lately . . . when they play together they're a tough team," Diaw said.

Together is the operative word.

Dunleavy did not think Gordon would be ready for Monday's game against San Antonio, but he could be back for Wednesday game at home against the Grizzlies.

Then there's Randolph, who is dealing with a difficult family situation. He was scheduled to fly home to Indiana to be with his dying father. It was unclear when he would return.

"Zach was great; he's got a lot on his mind," Dunleavy said. "I'm sure part of that was weighing on him."

Randolph learned his father had been hospitalized just minutes before the Feb. 17 game at Phoenix. He played against the Suns but was tossed out after an altercation and received a two-game suspension.

He apologized to Dunleavy and spent a few days with his family during the suspension and rejoined the Clippers. Randolph said after the game that his father's kidneys were shutting down and that he could communicate with family members only by blinking his eyes.

Etc.

The Bobcats' Larry Brown was coaching against one of his former teams.

And the point would be?

It's always hard to let a traveling Brown reference go without notice. But the Bobcats' game notes pointed out that this was the 17th of 25 games they will play this season against teams previously coached by Brown.

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lisa.dillman@latimes.com

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