The Clippers made runs at the basket and a run at the Golden State Warriors' hold on fifth place in the Pacific Division and had both swatted away in similar fashion.
Manute Bol took care of the specifics, the Warriors as a whole took care of the rest and beat the Clippers, 112-109, before 12,847 at the Sports Arena.
Bol had 10 blocked shots, seven in the first two quarters and only three the rest of the way. The last one, however, should count as double: swatting Charles Smith's free-throw line jump shot with the Warriors holding a 108-107 lead. Chris Mullin grabbed the loose ball and gave Golden State (29-33) a three-point lead with a layup with 30.9 seconds showing.
The Clippers (25-37) could manage only Smith's rebound layin of Winston Garland's miss the rest of the way, the Warriors adding two Rod Higgins free throws with 8.6 seconds remaining for the final margin.
"I thought our guys got 'over-challenging,' " Clipper Coach Don Casey said of the confrontations with Bol. "You can't fight City Hall. I don't mind determinedness, but sometimes you have to face reality."
The Clippers began the night 5 1/2 games behind Seattle for the eighth and final Western Conference playoff spot with 21 games to play. But this one was especially important because of the opponent--Golden State was three games in front for fifth place in the Pacific Division. A bigger problem than catching the SuperSonics to qualify for postseason is also having two other teams, the Warriors and Houston, also falter if the Clippers are to make it.
In the first of two meetings Golden State and the Clippers have in the remaining five weeks of the regular season--the other coming April 18 at Oakland--the teams provided a game, which is more than can be said for the two previous get-togethers. On Nov. 7, the Warriors were up by 19 points at halftime and won by 24. On Dec. 28, the Clippers led by 15 points at the mid-point and cruised to a 20-point victory.
This time, Golden State led, 58-54, at intermission. Terry Teagle had 14 points in a substitute's role for the Warriors, but the biggest impact came from a guy who didn't score a point.
Bol didn't even take a shot in the first half. But he had four rebounds . . . and the seven blocked shots. They all came in the second quarter, seemingly in rapid-fire succession against a Clipper team that continued to challenge him despite predictable results.
Smith, on the same possession.
Danny Manning, the very next time down court, keeping the ball down the lane on a three-on-one fast break.
Martin again, on a 15-footer from the right baseline.
The Warriors converted all of that into eight points, enough to make the difference for the halftime lead. There were numerous other intimidations, too--not blocks, but a 7-foot-7 deterrent around the Clipper basket.
"I believe they had their own plan," Bol said afterward. "Maybe they tried to get me in foul trouble."
It didn't work, but not much did against him.
Bol played little in the third quarter, but the Clippers were turned back in another way. Golden State led by 11, 87-76, heading into the fourth.
By beating Orlando Saturday, the Clippers are assured of a winning record against the Eastern Conference this season. They are 13-10, with Miami at the Sports Arena Wednesday and Atlanta here March 30. Also, the Clippers finished 7-6 in road games against the East. . . . Manute Bol began the night fourth in the league in blocked shots, at 3.16 per game. Clipper Benoit Benjamin was fifth with 2.58.