Clippers Snap Out of It With a 97-96 Win
Mike Woodson hit a 15-foot baseline jumper with four seconds left as the Clippers overcame a 15-point second-half deficit to beat the Cleveland Cavaliers, 97-96, Saturday night at the Sports Arena.
The Clippers, who ended a seven-game losing streak, matched their win total of last season, when they went 12-70. They are 12-40 with 30 games remaining.
“Oh, a win!” Clipper Coach Gene Shue said. “Needless to say, I’m ecstatic because we don’t win that often. Tonight, we had very good defense. We took control of the game with defense. It changed the whole complexion of the game.”
The Cavaliers had a chance to win it, but guard Mark Price, the National Basketball Assn. leader in three-point attempts, missed a shot that was just inside the three-point line as time ran out.
Price thought he was fouled by Clipper guard Larry Drew, and complained to referee Bernie Fryer after the game. “He (Drew) knocked me down, but they didn’t call anything,” Price said. “He knocked me off balance. The last play was meant for me. The shot was there.”
Drew said he felt Price should have been called for a charging foul. I think I had good position,” he said.
The Clippers set up Woodson’s winning shot with good defense.
Woodson deflected a pass from Cleveland guard Ron Harper into the hands of rookie forward Joe Wolf with 14 seconds left.
Shue didn’t call a timeout, the Clippers raced the ball up the floor and Woodson hit the jumper. He finished with 23 points.
The Clippers, who trailed by as many as 15 in the third quarter, blitzed the Cavaliers, 26-6, in the span of 8 minutes 49 seconds at the end of the third quarter and the start of the fourth period to take an 87-82 lead with 5 1/2 minutes left.
Wolf, who had 17 points, played a key role in the Clippers’ run.
He scored with 1:03 left to give Los Angeles a 95-94 lead, but John Williams sank two free throws with a minute left to give the Cavaliers a 96-95 lead.
The Clippers’ bench played a key role in the win.
Wolf, who sat out the Clippers’ 106-96 loss to the New York Knicks with a sore left hamstring, came off the bench to 16 points in the second half.
Reggie Williams, the Clippers’ top draft pick, who was sidelined for seven weeks with a knee injury, returned to the lineup. Williams, who played forward before he was injured last month, was moved to point guard. He had 15 points in 21 minutes.
“I was running the point in practice, but it’s different in a game,” Williams said. “It’s going to take me a little while to get used to it.”
And Greg Kite, the Clippers’ backup center, did a good job of holding Cleveland center Brad Daugherty in check in the second half.
Daugherty, who had 9 points in the first half, was limited to just 13 points. He made just 5 of 16 shots.
Lenny Wilkens, coach of the Cavaliers, said the Clippers took the momentum away from Cleveland in the second half.
“The Clippers played very well in the second half,” Wilkens said. “They were more aggressive than us. They started making their shots and we missed a few. Once they got going. We couldn’t stop them.”
Cleveland unveiled a new look against the Clippers.
Forwards Larry Nance and Mike Sanders, traded from the Phoenix Suns to the Cavaliers last Thursday, made their debuts.
Nance came off the bench to score 10 points in 19 minutes.
“I think Larry Nance is going to be a fine addition to our team,” Wilkens said.
Nance will give the Cavaliers one of the best front lines in the NBA. Cleveland already has All-Star center Brad Daugherty and forward John (Hot Rod) Williams. Williams and Harper had 18 points apiece to lead Cleveland (28-28).
Forward Kenny Fields signed a 10-day contract with the Clippers Saturday morning. Fields, 26, a former UCLA star, played 44 games for the Clippers last season after he was cut by the Milwaukee Bucks. A free agent at the end of last season, he was unable to reach an agreement with the Clippers last summer. Fields played eight games for the Rochester (Minn.) Flyers in the Continental Basketball Assn. before signing with the Clippers. Fields, who had a weight problem last season, fasted his way down to 226 pounds. “I went seven straight days with just water. If it was going to kill me I’d do it,” Fields said. “I lost 20 pounds in three weeks.” . . . The Clippers open a four-game trip against Eastern Conference teams Tuesday, starting with the New Jersey Nets. The game will match the two worst teams in the NBA. The Clippers have lost 18 straight road games and are winless in their last 22 road games against Eastern Conference teams. They have dropped 39 of their last 41 road games dating back to last season. . . . Guard Quintin Dailey sat out Saturday’s game with a groin injury.