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Direction Is Clear for Polynice, Clippers : Pro basketball: Team’s new center shows he takes winning seriously during 129-112 victory over the Nuggets.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Denver Nuggets should have known it would be one of those nights when their bus driver, wanting to avoid the crowded Harbor Freeway, needed directions to get from the team’s Century Boulevard hotel to the Sports Arena via surface streets. Joe Wolf, a former Clipper, moved to the front seat and pointed the way.

The Clippers, suddenly in some sort of fast lane, were waiting with detours known as Olden Polynice, Charles Smith, Danny Manning, Ron Harper and Ken Norman, all of whom had double-doubles in a 129-112 victory Sunday.

Winners of back-to-back games for the first time since early December, when they won three in a row, the Clippers improved to 18-35 and brought new significance to Tuesday’s game at Seattle, beyond the fact that it will be Polynice and Benoit Benjamin against their former teams six days after being traded. A victory over the SuperSonics and the Clippers, longshots now, will re-declare themselves contenders for the playoffs.

One bold statement was made Sunday, courtesy the new guy, who isn’t much for slowly blending in. Polynice, in his first start since the middle of last season, chastised Harper and Gary Grant for helping up Denver’s Michael Adams after knocking him over in a third-quarter collision. Protocol took it on the chin.

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“I just went over there and told them (Harper and Grant) to get away from him,” said Polynice, who had 19 points on nine-of-13 shooting and 12 rebounds in 29 minutes. “ ‘That’s the guy you knocked down, don’t help him up. That’s the opponent.’ . . . Teams have been coming in here and taking advantage of the Clippers. Things like that are going to stop.”

Grant’s 10 points, along with eight assists, made it six Clippers scoring in double figures, and Tom Garrick had eight points and 12 assists. So the Clippers actually came close to having seven players with double-doubles, before settling at five:

--Polynice.

--Manning, with 19 points and 10 rebounds, his second consecutive double-double.

--Smith, with 18 points, 13 rebounds and six blocked shots. Four of the blocks came in the first quarter, tying Benjamin’s franchise record for a period, and all six occurred in the first half, the finish hampered after he was accidentally kneed in the thigh by Denver’s Orlando Woolridge. The last time the teams played, Dec. 1 at Denver, Smith had 52 points.

--Harper, who made only eight of 21 shots after going six of 19 Friday against San Antonio, barely missed a triple-double with 22 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists.

--Norman, who, despite going back to the bench with the arrival of Polynice as Coach Mike Schuler abandoned the three-forward approach, had 16 points and 10 rebounds.

The Clippers shot 59.3% during the second half to turn a 60-58 halftime lead into a runaway. They led by as many as 18 during the fourth quarter.

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Adams led the Nuggets with 29 points. Orlando Woolridge, their leading scorer at 28.1 coming in, had a season-low 10 while making three of 19 attempts. Clipper Notes

Benoit Benjamin remembered: Ron Harper has written “00" on his shoes, along with inkings for close friend Spud Webb of Atlanta and a couple of other buddies, as a tribute to Benoit Benjamin. “I just wanted to thank him for the time we played together and for all his good passes and defensive help,” Harper said. Likewise, Danny Manning wrote 00 in black marker on the sleeve on his right knee. . . . Potential is finally catching up to reality for Reggie Williams, the former Clipper No. 1 pick who went into the game averaging 16.5 points for Denver. Since the start of 1989-90, Williams has played for the Clippers, been traded to Cleveland, been cut by the Cavaliers, picked up and waived by San Antonio and signed by the Nuggets. Since joining Denver, he has started in 17 of 22 games, including Sunday. “I don’t have to worry anymore about missing shots or making mistakes that will get me taken out real quick,” Williams said.


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