Clippers’ Improvement Continues in Loss to Jazz
All semblance of order in the National Basketball Assn., shaky at best after the Clippers beat the playoff-bound Golden State Warriors and Lakers in consecutive games, almost flew out the window Monday night.
This time, the Clippers had the Utah Jazz on the ropes.
It was 70-70 late in the third quarter and 85-84, Utah, in the fourth. Then, just when it appeared the meek would rise, the Jazz pulled away with an 11-2 run down the stretch to beat the Clippers, 108-102, before 9,106 at the Sports Arena.
The result gave the Jazz its first 50-victory season. Last Friday, Utah clinched the Midwest Division title, and the No. 2 spot in the Western Conference playoffs.
But for the Clippers, who have clinched last place in the Pacific Division, it was anything but a performance worthy of the basement.
“Our goal right now is to leave the season feeling good, that there are some accomplishments,” Coach Don Casey said. “This team (Utah) may blow us out tomorrow (tonight), but to lose by six points while playing three rookies has to feel good.”
However the Clippers finish, it will probably be without reserve guard Reggie Williams, who was suspended Monday night for the final four games, beginning tonight against the Jazz (50-29) at Salt Lake City. The suspension came after Williams, frustrated again at his lack of playing time, twice refused to go into the game, according to Casey.
Williams, the fourth pick in the 1987 draft, had not shared much in the Clippers’ recent success--nine victories in the last 18 games coming in--because of injury and lack of playing time. Monday, he did not play for the second consecutive game, although the Clippers were short of shooting guards with Quintin Dailey injured.
Williams, who averaged 10.2 points while appearing in 63 of the 79 games, changed and left the locker room almost immediately after the game. He was not available for comment.
General Manager Elgin Baylor did not rule out the possibility that Williams could rejoin the team before the season finale Saturday at Sacramento, although there is no guarantee he would be reinstated even if he attempts to return.
The Clippers will contact NBA headquarters today to determine whether Williams has to be paid, in light of the incident.
“His situation is tenuous,” Casey said after the Clippers dropped to 20-59.
Quintin Dailey did not dress because of a bruised left knee. . . . Karl Malone scored 34 points and John Stockton had 16 points and 16 assists for the Jazz. Gary Grant had 30 points and Ken Norman 26 for the Clippers.