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Nba

Staying in sync now an issue

Oklahoma City 83, Clippers 79

November 12, 2009|BEN BOLCH | ON THE CLIPPERS

The present looks increasingly bleak for the Clippers with so much of their future wearing haute couture instead of jerseys and sneakers.

In their second game without injured shooting guard Eric Gordon, the Clippers fell deeper into an early-season sinkhole Wednesday night at Staples Center during an 83-79 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Clippers squandered a nine-point, third-quarter lead and dropped to 0-2 without the second-year Gordon, who is expected to miss at least five more games because of a sore left groin. Rookie forward Blake Griffin, who hasn't played this season because of a stress fracture in his left kneecap, won't return until next month.

The only thing left to play for by then might be another lottery pick if the Clippers keep performing as they did against the Thunder, folding against a .500 team that was playing for the second consecutive night after losing to Sacramento on Tuesday.

"We should have won this game," said Clippers guard Baron Davis, who had 17 points and nine assists. "I think we got out of sync, man. We started off pushing, attacking, sharing the ball and as the game progressed we got out of sync."

Swingman Kevin Durant scored 30 points for Oklahoma City, which took a 78-71 lead midway through the fourth quarter as the Clippers started forcing bad shots and committing silly fouls.

The Clippers stormed back to tie the score at 79-79 with 1 minute 28 seconds left when Al Thornton was fouled on a three-point attempt and made all three free throws, but Durant buried a baseline jumper to put the Thunder up by two points with 38 seconds to go.

Clippers center Chris Kaman then jumped into the air near the basket and passed the ball directly to the Thunder's Kevin Ollie.

"It's one of those plays you wish you had back," said Kaman, who finished with 20 points and 11 rebounds despite playing with a viral infection that is not expected to force him to miss any games.

Ollie rebounded his own miss on the other end of the floor and was fouled, making both free throws with 1.8 seconds remaining to put the game out of reach.

Gordon and Griffin were reduced to cheerleaders from their seats one row behind the team bench, with Gordon wearing a light blue jacket and Griffin in a dark suit with a pink dress shirt.

The Clippers actually seemed inspired in the early going, with Davis finding Kaman and forward Marcus Camby for dunks on consecutive plays in the first quarter and setting up Thornton for a three-pointer midway through the second.

It didn't last. The Clippers shot only 35.9% for the game, with Kaman making nine of 26 attempts.

"We just missed so many easy shots here tonight that basically we shot ourselves in the foot," Clippers Coach Mike Dunleavy said, with "so many easy buckets, opportunities and good looks from the outside that we didn't make."

Durant was a one-man wrecking crew for the Thunder, blocking a jump shot by Rasual Butler, collecting the ball and racing down the court for a dunk. He scored nearly every way imaginable, on floaters, driving double-clutch layups and three-pointers.

Etc.

Gordon said he would rest for the allotted 10 days regardless of how much improvement he felt in his groin. So far, he says he feels about the same as when he suffered the injury.

"It's only been a few days," he said, "so hopefully within the next five days I can start feeling better."

Kaman, the Clippers' leading scorer and second-leading rebounder, was not among the team's four players listed on the All-Star ballot released this week.

Dunleavy called the exclusion of Kaman "a mistake" but said it probably wouldn't matter "in the sense that he's not going to be a guy that's going to be voted in by the fans anyway. He's going to be a coach's vote based on how he plays."

Kaman, who entered Wednesday's game averaging 21.9 points and 9.4 rebounds, said he didn't want to talk about his exclusion.

Davis, Camby, Thornton and Griffin were the Clippers on the All-Star ballot.

--

ben.bolch@latimes.com

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