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HOUSTON 110, CLIPPERS 93

Clippers get knocked around

Physical Rockets put a little more hurt on L.A. than just a one-sided loss.

March 29, 2009|Lisa Dillman

HOUSTON — The Clippers' Al Thornton had an ice bag attached to his right shoulder, another to his left knee and still one more on his right knee.

"I think I need a couple more," he said after the Houston Rockets defeated the Clippers, 110-93, at Toyota Center on Saturday night.

All from taking body blows from the Rockets' Ron Artest?

"You could say that," Thornton said, wryly chuckling.

Nearby Thornton in the locker room was rookie guard Mike Taylor, who escaped serious injury after bumping knees with Houston center Yao Ming near the end of the first half.

"It was more like hip to knee," joked Clippers rookie DeAndre Jordan.

Talk about the school of hard knocks. If Saturday was an education, then this miserable six-game trip felt more like a never-ending semester.

"It seems like we've been gone for three weeks," said Taylor, who suffered a bone bruise of his right knee but had no structural damage and had his third consecutive game scoring in double figures, with 11 points.

Not only did the Clippers (18-56) lose five of the six games on the trip, the way they performed did nothing to quell ever-increasing doubts about the team's on-court chemistry and led to a spate of wild rumors about possible changes.

That's what happens when you lose games by an average of 17 points, which is what happened in the five losses. It could have been more than 17 against Houston, but the Rockets sat Yao in the fourth quarter after he had 21 points and 15 rebounds.

In fact, he had a double-double by halftime, the 14th time he has done so in his career.

"We were able to get some rest after the big lead," Yao said.

The Rockets scored the first seven points and led, 30-17, after the first quarter. At times, the second half looked like a pickup game, a physical one at that.

Thornton, who was held to 12 points, spoke about the Artest factor.

"He's so accustomed to doing that, that's just the way he plays," Thornton said. "The refs are not going to call the foul every time. That's him. He plays every game like that.

"No one compares to him [in the NBA]. If you go into the game not mentally prepared for him, he'll eat you alive. You know he's going to bring it every possession."

Said rookie guard, Eric Gordon, who led the Clippers with 17 points: "They let him get away with a lot of contact. He plays real physical. . . . It's just crazy you could just move the dude like that. I know he's bigger and stronger than a lot of forwards, but it's crazy how he can maneuver people like that."

Clippers Coach Mike Dunleavy put it a little more bluntly.

"He mugs people every night, whatever you're allowed to get away with. It's good defense unless somebody calls a foul," he said. "Tonight it was good defense. Certain guys can play certain ways and he's established that."

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Etc.

Unfortunately, Marcus Camby has a history and could compare his latest injury to other mishaps. He suffered a sprained left ankle Friday at San Antonio when he went up for a rebound against Tim Duncan, and Camby said he came down on Duncan's foot and rolled his ankle.

"So I'll take it day to day," said Camby, who has the ankle in an air cast and received extensive treatment on it Saturday. "The last time it was a lot worse. Hopefully, I'll be back in a week."

Baron Davis sat out the game, dealing with an injured calf and what he called stomach ulcers. He said he may see a specialist when he returns home.

Davis, who has dealt with ulcers in the past and is taking medication, was busy eating a basket of crackers before the game.

"It gives me four or five days to rest and get back to finish the season strong," he said. "I can only eat like crackers. Can't eat anything spicy. It's not bad. I'm fine with just water.

"You've just to kind of deal with it. You don't want to take the chance out there because the pain, and spasms. And it gets bad when my adrenaline gets pumping."

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lisa.dillman@latimes.com

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