Chaney Starts It Off the Way Lynam Ended

Times Staff Writer

No one expected an immediate transformation in the Clippers' recent dismal play Wednesday night just because they had fired Coach Jim Lynam and replaced him with Don Chaney earlier in the day.

The only transformation came at halftime, after it seemed the change had done more harm than good.

Following a horrible first-half performance in which they trailed the Cleveland Cavaliers by 11 points and commited 12 turnovers, the Clippers recovered. They pulled even with the Cavaliers, only to drop a 114-112 decision in front of 7,145 fans at the Sports Arena.

So, the Clippers (22-40) ushered in the Don Chaney era in the same manner they ended the Jim Lynam era--with a narrow loss.

Sunday night against Kansas City, in what turned out to be Lynam's farewell, the Clippers had a two-point lead in the final seconds of regulation but couldn't hold it and lost in overtime.

This time, the Clippers trailed by two points (114-112) with five seconds left and had the ball. But Norm Nixon's three-point shot attempt from the right wing banged off the back of the rim rim at the buzzer.

As Chaney said afterward, coming close doesn't help the Clippers in the standings. Wednesday's loss was the Clippers' seventh straight and 18th in the last 21 games.

"The (second-half) comeback doesn't tell me much because we still lost," Chaney said. "I don't want these guys to be satisfied because they were able to come back. I want them to win the game."

Veteran forward Junior Bridgeman said that people shouldn't expect too much too soon.

"We knew it wasn't going to happen between 8 and 11 o'clock tonight," Bridgeman said. "I look at it now as establishing a system that we can build on for next year. But we would've liked to win tonight."

If it's any consolation to the Clippers, it's not that much of an embarrassment to lose to the Cavaliers anymore. Cleveland won its sixth straight game, and its seventh straight on the road.

In the first half, the Cavaliers seemed headed for a rout, and it was mostly the Clippers' fault. The Clippers committed 12 turnovers, shot only 48.8% and let the Cavaliers score 21 points on fast-break layups.

Apparently, something Chaney said at halftime made a difference, because the Clippers seemed like a different team. They committed just two turnovers in the second half and effectively used a defensive trap and running game that Chaney said would become common in the next 20 games.

But when it came to a final shot, the best the Clippers could get was a Nixon three-point attempt, which was on line but long.

Derek Smith scored scored a game-high 29 points after a dismal first quarter in which he was held to two. Bridgeman scored 17 off the bench, while Marques Johnson (16) and James Donaldson (15) also contributed.

World B. Free led Cleveland with 23 points and 13 assists, while Phil Hubbard had 20 points and Mark West 15 points and 13 rebounds.

Clipper Notes

Assistant Coach Brad Greenberg, who has remained as Don Chaney's assistant coach, was one of Jim Lynam's closest friends. Greenberg played for Lynam at American University and coached with him at St. Joseph's. "I'm a bundle of emotions right now," Greenberg said. "I'm depressed because a good friend of mine, a guy that gave me a chance to break into this league, is gone. But on the other hand, I've got a job to do. Jim Lynam is one of the top basketball minds around. This won't hurt his confidence in his ability."

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