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NEW ORLEANS 112, CLIPPERS 84

Clippers' momentum is hit by a buzz saw

Their three-game win streak and hopes of reaching .500 evaporate in an instant in ugly 112-84 loss to Hornets.

November 10, 2009|LISA DILLMAN | ON THE CLIPPERS

The Clipper Youth looked good Monday night.

Sharp, even.

There they were. The franchise's first-round draft picks of the last two Junes, sitting side by side, looking ready to lead the way forward.

Only, forward to a nice restaurant, not the basketball court. Though Eric Gordon might need to copy Blake Griffin and put on a tie to get in the door.

Griffin hasn't played this season because of a stress fracture in his left kneecap and Gordon, sidelined by a strained groin, joined him in the row behind the bench, both wearing street clothes. There is no timetable on Gordon's return.

What happened next was utterly predictable.

The New Orleans Hornets routed the defense-challenged Clippers, hitting threes at will and winning, 112-84, at Staples Center.

The Clippers, whose three-game winning streak had lifted them to within a game of .500, fell to 3-5. Chris Kaman, former Hornet Rasual Butler and Ricky Davis each scored 14 points.

"We've got enough talent where we should have been more competitive," Baron Davis said. "That loss didn't have nothing to do with anything but effort. We didn't bring no effort. It isn't an excuse. . . . You can't win like that -- no matter what. It wasn't good to the game of basketball tonight. We didn't pay our dues out there."

All-Star point guard Chris Paul led the Hornets with 24 points and 10 assists and had just one turnover.

Paul had said after Sunday's one-sided loss to the Lakers that the Hornets were missing defense and the ability to score. (The same might be said of the Clippers on Monday.)

For a while Monday, New Orleans also was missing Paul. He rolled his ankle late in the second quarter and immediately went to the locker room for treatment. He'd had the hot hand in the first half, going seven for 11 from the field for 16 points and adding eight assists before he was injured. The Hornets led, 60-46, at the half.

But his absence wasn't long. Paul returned to start the second half.

He wasn't a one-man show. Devin Brown made five three-point shots -- the Hornets had 10 -- and finished with 25 points, tying a career high. David West added 17 points.

This blowout was on the other sneaker, and looked a lot like the Clippers' rout of Golden State on Friday.

Much can change in the NBA in the matter of days, and this was no exception. Gordon, who is averaging 18.9 points and 38.3 minutes, injured his groin in the fourth quarter Saturday against Memphis.

Apparently, it wasn't one sudden move that triggered the injury. But Gordon felt increasing discomfort in the latter stages of Saturday's game.

Those injuries can be tricky, which is why Coach Mike Dunleavy wasn't using the phrase "day to day" as a timetable for Gordon's return. Day to day often has a way of turning into week to week around here.

"Hopefully, we get him back as soon as possible," Dunleavy said. "Won't put a timetable on it. We just need the kid to get 100%; a groin is one of those injuries that can be lingering

"You've just got to shut it down till he's OK."

"Lingering" is not the word the Clippers want to hear regarding their second-leading scorer, and a player well-grounded in the art of defense.

"I've never had a groin injury," Gordon said. "I'm just going to be patient and hopefully I won't be out too long. It's just been nagging off and on. We'll just see what happens and see how much time I'm going to take off. It was really hard [sitting out]. I'm not very used to watching that many games being hurt, and I'm just anxious to get back."

Etc.

The NBA recognized Kaman as the Western Conference player of the week. Kaman, the Clippers' leading scorer, was averaging 23 points through the first seven games. He had scored 20 or more points in the last six games, a career-high stretch, a streak that was stopped Monday. . . .

Not even the man known as The Rhino was immune to injury. The Clippers' Craig Smith suffered a lacerated right eye and had to leave the game in the fourth quarter.

--

lisa.dillman@latimes.com

twitter.com/reallisa

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