Benjamin Blocks 10 Shots, but It's Not Enough

Times Staff Writer

Every time center Benoit Benjamin of the Clippers blocks a shot, a pair of season ticket-holders in the first row of the loge section at midcourt tack a large red 'B' onto the Sports Arena wall.

"Those B's keep me alive," Benjamin said.

They almost ran out of room during Friday night's Clippers-Milwaukee Bucks game as Benjamin posted a franchise-record 10 blocked shots.

"Benjamin was tremendous defensively," said Del Harris, the Milwaukee Bucks' coach. "He made it hard for us inside."

The Bucks, however, had it easy outside, scoring at will on long-range jumpers as they beat the Clippers, 97-88, before 9,239 fans.

While Benjamin, perhaps the most erratic center in the National Basketball Assn., came through with one of the best defensive efforts of his four-year pro career, it wasn't enough to pull the Clippers out of their current losing streak, which has reached four games.

If they gave points for blocking shots, the Clippers might have had a chance to beat the Bucks.

"I don't care how many shots you block or how well-coached you are, if you don't score points, you look bad," Harris said.

The Clippers' anemic offense disappeared once again as they failed to crack the 100-point barrier for the 25th time in 40 games this season.

"I think Benoit's blocks were terrific," Clipper Coach Gene Shue said, "but if you get 10 blocks, you've got to turn those things into points.

"We had very good intensity on defense, but the bottom line is that our defense was under a lot of pressure because we couldn't score. If you can't score 100 points, you'll have trouble winning in this league."

Benjamin was more impressive on defense than on offense, as he scored 12 points and grabbed 8 rebounds in 35 minutes.

"I'm going to go out every night and try to block shots," Benjamin said. "Shot-blocking is one of my strengths. It's something that comes natural to me."

The Clippers started fast, taking a nine-point first-quarter lead, but they ran out of gas, scoring just 39 points in the second half.

"This is the worst I've seen the offense," Clipper captain Mike Woodson said after Los Angeles lost for the 18th time in the last 20 games. "We couldn't generate nothing."

Woodson scored 18 points in the first half, including 14 in the first quarter. But he scored 0 points in the second half.

Guard Quintin Dailey provided what little offense the Clippers could muster in the second half, scoring a team-high 21 points in 21 minutes off the bench. Dailey scored 17 of the 19 points that Los Angeles got in the third quarter.

Point guard Larry Drew (14 points, 11 assists) was the only other Clipper in double figures, but Drew got just 4 points in the second half.

Shue's next move to pump some life into the Clipper offense will be to activate guard Lancaster Gordon for tonight's game against the Denver Nuggets in the Mile High city.

Gordon, who has spent the season on the injured list after undergoing knee surgery last summer, replaces guard Michael Phelps on the Clipper roster.

The Clippers decided not to renew Phelps' 10-day contract. Phelps, who was playing for the Wyoming Wildcatters in the Continental Basketball Assn. before he signed with the Clippers last Wednesday, isn't sure whether he's going back to the CBA.

Shue had praised Phelps' defense, but Gordon has a guaranteed contract and Phelps doesn't.

It's doubtful, however, that the Clippers, who have lost 30 of 40 games this season, have 12 players who are better than Phelps.

Shue wouldn't comment when asked if the decision to activate Gordon was related more to finance than basketball.

Gordon, however, has been a disappointment after being the eighth player selected in the 1984 NBA draft. Gordon has shot just 39.2% during the first three years of his pro career.

"I do like Phelps and I told him that," Shue said. "But I promised Lancaster that we'd take a look at him after we returned from our trip to Texas and I meant that."

Gordon said he's anxious to see what he can do after sitting out almost half of the season.

While the Clippers still haven't found what they're searching for on offense, the Bucks (21-19) had a balanced offensive attack with five players who scored 12 points or more.

Guard Paul Pressey scored 20 points and dished out 9 assists as Milwaukee ended a two-game losing streak.

Forward Terry Cummings, an ex-San Diego Clipper, added 18 points and grabbed 10 rebounds.

Cummings said the Bucks, who were playing their fourth game in five nights, shut down the Clipper offense by turning up their defensive intensity.

"Ben did a good job by clogging the middle," Cummings said. "He made it hard to get a shot off. But we just turned up the pressure on defense."

Guard Craig Hodges scored 15 points for the Bucks. He got hot in the fourth quarter, hitting a pair of three-point shots as Milwaukee held off a brief Clipper rally.

Center Randy Breuer scored 14 points and grabbed 8 rebounds in a 25 solid minutes, and forward Jack Sikma had 12 points and 6 assists.

Clipper Notes

Milwaukee guard Sidney Moncrief played just six minutes in the first half before leaving with a pulled groin. . . . Bob McAdoo and Gar Heard had shared the franchise record of nine blocked shots. Benoit Benjamin had seven blocks in the first half, which was also a club record. . . . Tonight's game in Denver will be televised by Channel 5 at 6:30, PST. Los Angeles is 0-2 against Denver this season. The Nuggets beat the Clippers by 46 points Nov. 6 in the season opener at Denver and handed the Clippers a 97-91 loss at the Sports Arena Nov. 21. The Clippers have lost 14 consecutive road games in the last two months. Tonight's game marks the 10th time this season that the Clippers have played on successive nights. They're 2-7 in the second games on those occasions. . . . The Clippers' next home game is Thursday night against the Lakers.

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