Notes on a Scorecard

The home of Los Angeles' inner-city pro basketball team no longer should be known as the Clip Joint. . . .

A capacity crowd went to the Sports Arena Sunday night to see the Bulls' Michael Jordan and stayed to cheer the Clippers' Ron Harper. The win gave the Clippers a 4-6 record that easily could be 6-4 were it not for a last-second tip-in by the Knicks and a bum call by referee Earl Strom that kept the game against San Antonio from going into overtime. . . .

This could be just the start of something serious for the perennial laughingstock of the NBA. Wednesday night, Danny Manning will return against Milwaukee. You remember him, the one-man show who brought Kansas the NCAA championship and then wrecked his knee early his rookie year. . . .

Ron Harper and Gary Grant at the guards. Manning, Charles Smith and Ken Norman to choose from at forward. Benoit Benjamin at center. Now that's respectability. . . .

Benjamin used to make about $500,000 per floor burn, but showed late last season that he likes playing for Coach Don Casey. Casey is one of the best-kept secrets in town. Nobody knows him except the 12 guys who are busting their butts for him nightly. . . .

Clipper announcer Ralph Lawler calls the youngest team in the league Casey's Kids. . . .

"I don't care about the crowds right now," insists owner Donald Sterling. "What's important is that we win. The crowds will come. L.A. is a good pro basketball town." . . .

To prove Sterling's point, 15,350 watched the Clippers and Bulls at the same time that 17,505 took in the Lakers and Spurs at the Forum. Not an unsold seat at either place. . . .

Michigan's football team, which lost to Notre Dame, shouldn't be ranked ahead of the Fighting Irish. . . .

For a change, here's a nice story about the fight game. Five of his former U.S. Olympic teammates and ex-world champion Donald Curry are footing the $10,500-bill for Kennedy McKinney's 90-day stay in a Memphis drug rehab center. The 1988 Olympians who have contributed are Ray Mercer, Andrew Maynard, Riddick Bowe, Michael Carbajal and Todd Foster. . . .

Sugar Ray Leonard has closed his workouts to the public and cut his entourage from 20 to six as he prepares for his bout with Roberto Duran on Dec. 7 at the Mirage in Las Vegas. Fine, but he also should have rehired Angelo Dundee. . . .

Leonard on his tough fight with Thomas Hearns: "The trouble was that I read the papers. I thought I would knock him out with the first punch." . . .

I get a kick out of boxing announcers who say a fighter "doesn't like it in the body." Who does? . . .

The Kings showed more in their 3-3 tie at Vancouver Sunday than in many of their victories this season. . . .

American men no longer win the big tennis tournaments, but five of them rank among the top 10 money winners. . . .

If the four millionaire golfers each represented a charity, the Skins Game would be a better event. . . .

Flipper Anderson out-gained the New Orleans Saints on Sunday night, 336 yards to 301. . . . Say this for Jim Everett: He threw well on a night when his pass protection wasn't the best. . . .

However, things had gotten so bad for the Rams that John Robinson actually looked grim on the sidelines. . . .

One note on a scorecard that had to be scratched after Mike Lansford's field goal in overtime: "The Rams will never win again in Louisiana if they keep calling drop-back passes on third down inside the one-yard line." . . .

Denver's clinching of the AFC West title as early as the 12th week shouldn't hurt the Raiders' chances against the Broncos Sunday in the Coliseum. Last season, Buffalo clinched the AFC East title the 12th week and then lost three of its remaining four. Granted, the Bills' one victory was over the Raiders. . . .

The Raiders and New England Patriots played the first quarter in a snappy 28 minutes before settling into a more leisurely pace and finishing in 3 hours 1 minute. . . .

Hank Kuhlmann's long-awaited debut as head coach of the Cardinals attracted 33,297, smallest NFL crowd ever in Phoenix. . . .

Steve Largent points out that the Seattle Seahawks finally are playing consistent football. They're lousy every week. . . .

The Chicago Bears now know the true value of injured defensive end Dan Hampton. . . .

Offensive rookie of the year: Detroit running back Barry Sanders. Defensive rookie of the year: Kansas City linebacker Derrick Thomas. . . .

The Pack is back and so are the best-looking uniforms in the NFL. . . .

It seemed fitting that Carnell Lake recovered a fumble for the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday during the torrential downpour in Miami. . . .

From Pat Haden: "Time of possession counts only in jail." . . .

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