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Clippers just can't get over the hump on road, lose in Portland

They almost erase a 22-point deficit but still fall to the Trail Blazers, 100-91, dropping their road record to 0-10 this season. Two Clippers are ejected, and center Chris Kaman reinjures his ankle.

December 05, 2010|By Lisa Dillman

Reporting from Portland, Ore. — One of these nights, one of these crazy old (Clippers) nights. . . .

First, before going down that path of bizarreness, the Clippers managed to keep a dubious streak alive.

Portland defeated them, 100-91, Sunday night at the Rose Garden, handing the Clippers their 10th loss in 10 road games. They nearly erased a 22-point deficit but faltered with four turnovers in the last 4 1/2 minutes. Oh, and they also lost center Chris Kaman, who reinjured his sprained left ankle.

Washington is the only other NBA team without a road victory.

Now back to the crazy.

Two Clippers, Brian Cook and Craig Smith, were ejected, and the team received five technical fouls in all, most of them resulting from a late-third-quarter scrum. Cook was tossed for a flagrant foul two on the Trail Blazers' Joel Przybilla.

Cook was quickly replaced by Baron Davis as No. 1 enemy when Davis got into it with Nicolas Batum amid pushing and shoving among multiple players. Then Davis was supplanted a few minutes later by Smith, who went after Rudy Fernandez after taking one in the face.

Smith was restrained by none other than former Clippers teammate Marcus Camby. Minutes later, Camby got a flagrant foul, against the kid he once mentored, Blake Griffin.

If it sounds wild, that would be correct.

"Everybody started to feel that brotherly love for one another," Clippers rookie guard Eric Bledsoe said.

They always said there was a thin (free-throw) line between love and hate.

"I was just trying to save [Smith] some money," joked Camby, who had one of those typical Camby games, a season-high 19 rebounds along with 12 points. Wesley Matthews scored 26 points for Portland, whose losing streak ended at six games.

Clippers Coach Vinny Del Negro said that they would appeal the flagrant foul assessed to Cook. He and the Clippers viewed it as a hard foul but officials disagreed after multiple looks at the play.

"I think I just got him at a bad point while he was in the air," Cook said. "I didn't want to give him a layup. I knew he had the back side cleared out."

Not long after, Cook was joined in the locker room by Smith. They could have had a small team meeting, considering Kaman was already there, having tweaked his ankle again in the second quarter.

"It was a little strange," Cook said. "We fought hard. We're starting to get a little bit of camaraderie. We fight for each other. And that's tough to do when you have new players, at first."

Griffin had his eighth straight double-double and 14th this season — 21 points and 15 rebounds — but struggled in a big way from the free-throw line, going seven for 16. Eric Gordon led the Clippers with 24 points.

The Clippers missed 17 free throws, and the late turnovers were costly as they fell to 4-17. Bledsoe committed two of the four late in the game; the turnovers came a little over a minute apart, and he picked up a foul after that — arguably one of the worst two-minute stretches of his young career.

"I wasn't being patient," he said. "I was in too big a rush."

The first one came with the Clippers trailing only 84-81, and with possession.

"I had to put him in," Del Negro said of substituting Bledsoe for Davis, who had 14 points and eight assists. "We have back-to-back games and Baron is just coming back. And I want to make sure we're smart about how we use him."

Etc.

Kaman was visibly upset afterward when asked about his injury. "I'm frustrated right now," he said. "I'd rather not talk about it. I don't know what I did. I don't remember the play. Maybe I came back too early. Maybe it's not strong enough."

lisa.dillman@latimes.com

twitter.com/reallisa

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