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Clippers Continue to Win the Hard Way : Pro basketball: After blowing an early lead, they come from behind to beat the 76ers, 102-95.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Not all the trends in Los Angeles are chic, even if the outcome looks stylish. Take the Clippers.

Saturday night, again refusing to make things easy, they rallied to win for the fifth time in the nine games they have trailed at halftime, getting 26 points from Charles Smith, 16 rebounds from Olden Polynice and a career-high 15 assists from Ron Harper to beat the Philadelphia 76ers, 102-95, at the Sports Arena.

“It’s nice to be able to come back to win,” said Polynice, who came within two of his career high for rebounds. “I don’t like the trend, though. It’s tough on my heart, I know that.”

Explanations are as puzzling as the outcomes are positive.

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“I only had one year of psychology at Virginia,” Polynice said, “so I’m not sure.”

The givens are that the Clippers improved to 16-14 and broke a seven-game losing streak to the 76ers, who got 29 points from Charles Barkley. And the key defensive plays down the stretch had a lot to do with it.

The Clippers led, 96-95, before Danny Manning’s jump shot put them up ahead three points. The next two trips for Philadelphia resulted in Harper intercepting a pass by Ron Anderson and--after James Edwards gave the Clippers a 100-95 cushion with a shot from the top of the key with the 24-second clock at two seconds--Smith blocking Barkley’s layup attempt.

That conceding the basket in a five-point game with about 15 seconds to go never entered Smith’s mind says a lot about the Clippers’ approach.

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“I knew we were up, but I didn’t know the time or the score,” Smith said. “I just saw it as an opportunity to play defense.”

Philadelphia beat Indiana Thursday night in the opener of this six-game trip but didn’t exactly come in with a head of steam.

Barkley said the 76ers were playing lazy too often, himself included.

They fell behind, 8-0, failing to score on six consecutive possessions--including three Barkley misses--to open the game.

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The 76ers took a 52-39 lead before the Clippers cut into it with two free throws by Doc Rivers, a layup by Manning and, after a basket by 76er Mitchell Wiggins, a three-point play by Gary Grant.

The Clippers were within 54-46, a respectable deficit considering they shot 38% in the first half. But they went into the locker room on a down note when Grant crashed into Johnny Dawkins with 2.3 seconds left in the quarter. Dawkins’ free throw gave Philadelphia a 55-46 cushion.

The Clippers completed the comeback in the third quarter, moving ahead, 66-65, while out-rebounding Philadelphia in the period, 16-3. The lead switched five times from there, the 76ers taking a 79-74 advantage into the fourth quarter.

Another end-of-quarter breakdown by the Clippers helped. They were already down, 77-74, after Dawkins’ jump shot with three seconds to go but added to that when Olden Polynice threw the entry pass away. Wiggins stole it and whipped it underneath to an unguarded Barkley for a slam dunk at the buzzer.

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Clipper Notes

Doc Rivers was back in the starting lineup after missing two games in a row and three of the last four with a sprained left ankle. The one appearance he’s had since Dec. 17 lasted only eight minutes before he re-injured his ankle. . . . The good news on the Clipper injury front was Charles Smith having his time restrictions increased from 30 to 35 minutes. The next group of back-to-back games is Jan. 10-11, so no decision was made on that.


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