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Clippers keep the best for last in win over Detroit

They shoot 73% in fourth quarter and hold off surges by Pistons with a solid defensive effort. The Clippers had lost 13 consecutive games to the Pistons.

November 28, 2009|By Lisa Dillman
  • Pistons forward Jonas Jerebko smacks Clippers center Chris Kaman on the head as he powers his way to the basket in the first half Friday night.
Pistons forward Jonas Jerebko smacks Clippers center Chris Kaman on the… (Duane Burleson / Associated…)

Reporting from Auburn Hills. Mich. — Indiana, the repeat?

A struggling opponent missing a star player and leading scorer because of an injury but somehow forcing the Clippers into rag-tag, shoddy defensive basketball.

"We were playing well, but we just let them hang around. It's just a recipe for disaster," Clippers Coach Mike Dunleavy said.

But the sequel did not materialize. The Clippers not only shot well in the fourth quarter but clamped down defensively against the Detroit Pistons, winning, 104-96, on Friday at the Palace of Auburn Hills. Detroit was without Ben Gordon, who has a sprained left ankle.

This broke an extended losing streak against the Pistons and provided an immediate course correction after the Clippers' collapse against the Pacers on Wednesday, in which they blew a 13-point second-half lead.

The Clippers (7-10) had lost 13 consecutive games to the Pistons, and, in fact, had not won here since Feb. 19, 2001. Instead of going home 0-2 on this trip, they split and now carry some momentum, having won three of their last four games.

A fourth-quarter disaster was avoided by the mixture of elements.

There was Chris Kaman, who had a game-high 26 points, shooting 11 for 13 from the field after going three for 19 against the Pacers. He was supported by plenty of others, most notably Baron Davis' 25-point, 10-assist performance.

Davis had a sleep-interrupted night, complete with a fever and night sweats, which forced him to miss the morning shoot-around.

"I was just exhausted," he said. "Just a fever, just sweating. I was a little dizzy. I just stayed focused and I knew that I would have enough to give the team as much energy as I had by getting some rest. I just really need to rest my body."

Davis, who played nearly 37 minutes, looked drained afterward. He was six for nine from the field and 11 for 11 from the free-throw line.

"It came on late last night," Davis said. "I kept tossing and turning and couldn't get any sleep. Then I was waking up every hour on the hour."

Additionally, Eric Gordon came off the bench to score 14 points, and Al Thornton had a big fourth quarter in which he scored 12 of his 19 points.

"I was asleep for three quarters and I woke up," Thornton said. "I have to blame it on Thanksgiving food. I was able to get it going in the fourth quarter, got a couple of easy baskets and it started working for me.

"I guess better late than never."

The Clippers shot 73% in the fourth quarter, and the Pistons shot 35% and committed five of their 11 turnovers in the last quarter. What helped turn it was an 8-0 run early in the fourth quarter by the Clippers as they took an 82-77 lead. They didn't wilt when Detroit came back with a final surge to lead 87-86 with 7:08 remaining.

This time, the Clippers went on an 11-3 run to make it 97-90, and didn't panic down the fourth-quarter stretch.

"I think it's important for us as a team to see what we can be doing down the stretch of games, not turning the ball over," Davis said. That includes "the pick-and-roll game and spreading the floor. I think everybody touching the ball and getting good shots, allows us to be a better team down the stretch."

Kaman, who grew up in western Michigan and went to college at Central Michigan, looked relieved, having played his first strong game after back-to-back clunkers.

"I feel better," he said. "It gives me a little bit more confidence boost, hitting the first three shots. It makes you feel good and you get rolling a little bit. Just took my time. Last game, I was rushing a little bit."


If the fourth quarter isn't shown in its entirety on TV, did it ever happen?

Early in the fourth, FSN West lost its picture, leaving Clippers' play-by-play announcer Ralph Lawler only able to do the audio for a few minutes. Shortly thereafter, Fox switched to a poker competition.

Viewers were told, via a crawl, that the game was delayed because of a power outage in the arena

Not true.

There was no need to break out flashlights and candles at the Palace.

What happened was a fire in the production truck, which is just outside the arena, apparently the result of an electrical malfunction. Crew members had to be evacuated from the truck, and the local fire department was called. No injuries were reported.

Lawler and his partner Michael Smith, using one microphone between them, finished the final 1:07 of the game, using an alternate video feed.

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