The Clippers’ Sunshine Boys continued to disappear into the sunset Tuesday night, making some noise, by words and action, in the process.
During the Clippers’ youth movement for the final two months of the season, veterans Quintin Dailey and Norm Nixon have been asked to step aside to allow more playing time for younger players. This, although Dailey is the team’s second-leading scorer and Nixon is the club leader.
“I make my $400,000 and I do my job,” said Dailey, who made four of seven shots from the field and three of four free throws for 11 points in 11 minutes Tuesday night as the Clippers were defeated by the Philadelphia 76ers, 123-105, before 10,267 in the Sports Arena.
“I’m tired of being frustrated.”
Nixon played only 13 minutes, his second-lowest total of the season. But he had 10 assists. He also is shooting 52.3% in the last 13 games, including Tuesday’s zero-for-two performance.
But the Clippers--1-28 in 1989--have little use for either in a prominent role down the stretch. There are youngsters to be evaluated in this lost season.
Is it any wonder Nixon thinks his talent would be better served elsewhere?
“I’ll play out the year and play as hard as I can,” he said. “But I think I might be better off somewhere else. That’s one thing to consider during the off-season. A team that is trying to win the championship next year and is looking for that one veteran guard to come off the bench, somebody like Utah or Phoenix, might be much better all the way around.
“I don’t even have fun anymore. Basketball this year became a job. That’s what makes it so tough. It’s always been a job, I guess, but there’s been optimism to a season. The last year I played (1985-86, before missing the last two seasons to injuries) . . . the team at this point was out of it. But then, because of a good finish, we had a realistic chance to make the playoffs. There was something to play for.
“I knew early on that this would not be the platform for me to make my comeback because of the commitment to the youth movement. I knew I would not be able to play at my level before the injuries, but I thought I would be getting more time than this.”
The Clippers (11-46), who have lost 10 in a row, were in Tuesday’s game until rookie Hersey Hawkins, their one-time draft choice, made back-to-back three-point shots. That put the 76ers ahead, 67-54, with 30 seconds to play in the second quarter.
A Gary Grant basket off his own miss with 12 seconds left brought the Clippers to within 11 at halftime, 67-56, despite shooting 65% from the field. Charles Smith made all seven of his attempts.
Smith finished nine of 12 en route to a team-high 24 points before fouling out with 3:46 left.
The Clippers, losers in 29 of their last 30 games and 19 of their last 21 against Philadelphia, also were led by Ken Norman’s 18.
Hawkins, who was acquired by Philadelphia in a draft-day trade, led all scorer with 32 points, making 12 of 16 from the field including three of four three-pointers, and Charles Barkley added 23.
Reggie Williams did not dress because of a hip pointer. He will be examined today, and his status for Thursday’s game against Portland in the Sports Arena is undetermined. . . . General Manager Elgin Baylor said the Clippers were not interested in re-signing Derek Smith when he recently was cut by Sacramento because they didn’t think his knees were 100% after a 1985 operation. So Smith, a former Clipper, came to the Sports Arena as a Philadelphia 76er and had 11 points, six assists and five rebounds in 12 minutes off the bench. “I want to show the whole league I can still play,” Smith said. “My legs aren’t great, but I can still play as well as a lot of guys in this league. I sure can. I’m going to show them.”