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LISA DILLMAN / ON THE CLIPPERS

Clippers revert to (bad) form

Davis scores 23 points, but the Grizzlies, who post only their third victory, have much more firepower. Camby injures his back. / MEMPHIS 106, CLIPPERS 91

November 19, 2009|LISA DILLMAN

MEMPHIS, TENN. — Remember all those days ago when the latest Clippers crisis appeared to be averted?

Turns out it was merely the briefest of commercial breaks, or someone leaning on the pause button for a second or two.

Three days after a seemingly unifying road victory, not only has the malaise resurfaced, but the Clippers have practically gone subterranean, losing consecutive games to NBA minnows. The latest was an embarrassing loss to the lowly Memphis Grizzlies, who won their third game, defeating the Clippers, 106-91, at FedExForum on Wednesday night.

Marc Gasol ran the table in the first half, and Rudy Gay and former Clipper Zach Randolph (21 points) took over in the second half for the Grizzlies. Gay, who had 21 points, was scoreless in the first half, and Gasol, who finished with 16 points, established a team mark for consecutive field goals made, 15 over two games.

The Clippers (4-9) have won one of their last six games and are losing players seemingly on a daily basis. Veteran Marcus Camby joined the growing list of injured players, limited to about 11 minutes of playing time in the first quarter because a lower-back bruise. Already out of commission: power forward and No. 1 overall draft pick Blake Griffin, guard Eric Gordon, and guard Kareem Rush, who suffered a season-ending torn ligament in his right knee Tuesday at New Orleans.

"Once we got to a point of where it was a tough lead to catch up to, I decided not to bring any of our starters back into the game," Coach Mike Dunleavy. "At this point, no chance of getting anybody else hurt."

Griffin, who suffered a stress fracture of his left kneecap, could return in mid-December, but that depends on how the MRI test of his knee looks later this month. Gordon, out because of a strained groin, could come back early next week, if all goes well.

The question is, will Dunleavy still be coaching the Clippers when the kids, Gordon and Griffin, ride to the rescue?

Recent NBA history would suggest that won't be the case. Eight teams fired coaches last season, and this season, New Orleans pulled the plug on Byron Scott rapidly, dismissing Scott last week. That was only days after the Hornets crushed the Clippers.

The wild card, of course, is Clippers owner Donald Sterling. How much does he take into account the litany of injuries, and does Sterling extend his patience and see what Dunleavy can do with the tools at his disposal when Griffin and Gordon return?

You might say there is a better chance of success at the slot machines than trying to predict Sterling's next move and timing here.

That isn't the only ambiguous question. What ails the disconnected-looking Clippers on the court has the players searching for answers.

"Nope. No answers," said Baron Davis, who had 23 points in 28 minutes, shooting eight for 13 from the field. "We're not unified. We're not all on the same page. We have to find a way to get in sync and get on the same page. It's tough.

"Last year, you could blame it on the talent, blame it on the chemistry. . . . It's disheartening."

Backup point guard Sebastian Telfair has gone through tough times, and most recently a truly awful season by the injury-riddled Timberwolves last season

He said this is different.

"We're a better team than we're showing right now. That's all I can say," he said.

"This is a talented team at every position. Right now we're just not putting it together for whatever reason. It's not going our way at all. Nothing."

Said Camby: "Today we just were not on the same page defensively. That's been our lack of success, on the defense end, rebounding the basketball and careless turnovers at times. I think we're scoring enough points, but we're shooting ourselves in the foot, just giving teams extra possessions."

Etc.

Camby actually was injured late in the first quarter Tuesday at New Orleans when he went crashing into the front row of seats, chasing down a loose ball.

"I almost ran into a baby," Camby said. "I felt kind of bad. I was able to play through it last night without a problem. It was just the next day, when you wake up. It was extremely sore. It wasn't good today, but I just tried to go out there and try to see what I had out there. It hurt pretty bad today."

The soreness is on Camby's left side and he was examined by Memphis team doctors. The Clippers are saying Camby is day to day.

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lisa.dillman@latimes.com

twitter.com/reallisa

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