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Clippers Go Back to ‘Training Camp’ : Basketball: They get four days off in which to work Harper, Benjamin into lineup after a 122-105 loss to Mavericks.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Break time. Or is it a standing-eight count?

The Clippers returned home early this morning to begin a four-day layoff from games--time enough, they hope, to heal wounds to the body and pride. Both have taken a few knocks, and some areas aren’t healing so quickly.

A 122-105 loss to the Dallas Mavericks Friday night before 16,983 at Reunion Arena left the Clippers 2-5 and losers of four of their last five games.

“The two times we’ve played them, once you really get up on them and pressure them and are passing the ball, they quit,” Maverick rookie Randy White said after his 18-point, nine-rebound performance in 21 minutes. “I saw them die tonight. But nothing against them, we played good ourselves.”

Right, but nothing against them.

The Clippers needed that. They’re hurting enough, physically.

--Patient No. 1, Ken Norman. Condition: Problem arms.

He hurt his left hand in training camp, although he still hasn’t figured how. That having healed, he injured his right wrist during a fall against the Houston Rockets on opening night.

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The wrist, cleared by X-rays, is taped almost every time Norman goes out. It is soaked in warm water much of the day. It isn’t helping much.

“It’s getting worse,” he said. “It keeps hurting every game, basically. It’s real difficult to shoot, at practice especially, because I don’t have the time to get loose like during the course of a game.”

The Clippers’ leading scorer last season is shooting 53.3%, but he took only five shots Thursday night at Houston. Norman appeared healthier against the Mavericks, hitting 11 of 17 attempts, including many jump shots, for a game-high 25 points.

“Once the hand loosens up, it’s all right,” he said.

--Patient No. 2, Tom Garrick. Condition: Sprained right knee.

It may be tough to notice, but Garrick is still bothered by the injury that kept him out of the game against New York on Nov. 11. He began the night as the NBA’s fourth-best shooter at 64.3%.

“It hurts when I run and gets stiff when I sit,” he said.

But, according to recent X-rays, it’s nothing worse then a bad bruise. He said he hopes the time away from games will finally heal the knee.

Is there a center in the house?

Benoit Benjamin ended his holdout and signed Thursday. The Clippers will take advantage of the off-days to get him into the flow after missing all of training camp and the first seven games.

Ron Harper, the shooting guard acquired in the Clippers’ trade Thursday, should expect big minutes early on, so the next four days, before New Jersey comes to the Sports Arena, will be very important for him, too.

A new center--though not necessarily an immediate starter--and a new shooting guard. It’ll be sort of like training camp revisited.

“It will help us tremendously,” Garrick said. “Not only will it heal the wounds we have presently, but it should also help the new guys make a transition into the system.”

The Clippers, whose bench was outscored, 53-35, provided some remedy for Dallas during its time of crisis. A 1-4 start before winning two in a row was bad enough, but to have Roy Tarpley, the league’s leading rebounder, suspended indefinitely, compounded an already bad situation.

Shooting 56.8% and having seven players score in double figures helped the Mavericks. Every little bit helps these days, though.

“It (the win) was important in many ways,” said Rolando Blackman, who tied Herb Williams for game-high honors with 19 points. “It’s the start of a new season, and this sort of relieves a mental burden. If we would have lost, it would have been, ‘What if Roy was here? How much do you need him?’ It moves that back a little.”

Instant anesthetic. After providing it, the Clippers have four days to discover their own.

Clipper Notes

The Clippers cleared a roster spot for Benoit Benjamin Friday by waiving Torgeir Bryn, who played 10 minutes in three of the first six games. Ron Harper, acquired in the trade that sent Reggie Williams and the rights to Danny Ferry to Cleveland, and Benjamin are both expected to practice Sunday at the Sports Arena. . . .Benjamin’s agent, Henry Holmes, disputes any notion that the 7-foot center’s new contract was a step backward from what the Clippers offered before a brief jump to Italy. “The deal is better than what he earned last year and better than what the Clippers originally offered before he went to Italy,” Holmes said, noting the package for 1989-90 could reach $1.85 million if all incentives bonuses are reached. “There was a lot of give and take between the sides.”

The reunion at Reunion never took place. Former University of Michigan teammates Gary Grant of the Clippers, Roy Tarpley of the Mavericks and Glen Rice of the Miami Heat planned to get together sometime Friday or Saturday, but Tarpley’s indefinite suspension without pay after being arrested Thursday for driving while intoxicated took care of that. Grant tried calling Tarpley during the afternoon, but found the number had been disconnected. The Heat play the Mavericks tonight. . . .The 82 points the Clippers scored in Thursday’s loss at Houston was their lowest offensive output since scoring 75 points March 1, 1988, at New Jersey.


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