It was only 2 minutes in actual time, but it may last a long time for the Clippers.
They turned a 10-point deficit with 2:37 remaining into a game Saturday night, pulling within one before losing to the Seattle SuperSonics, 112-108, in front of 14,629 at Seattle Coliseum.
"We really have to feel good about the effort tonight and the way we came back against a good basketball team," Clipper guard Mark Jackson said. "We could have folded."
The Clippers scored on eight consecutive possessions, capped by Danny Manning's sixth three-pointer of the season, to get within 109-108 with 17 seconds left. The SuperSonics then called timeout to regroup. Immediately after catching the entry pass, Sam Perkins was fouled by Loy Vaught.
Perkins missed the first and made the second, giving Seattle a two-point lead with 16 seconds to go and setting up the key play of the night. It came on the ensuing possession, when Jackson attempted to screen Nate McMillan for Manning on the right flat.
The mild collision knocked Jackson off balance, which made it easy for McMillan to knock him into Manning about 15 feet away from the basket. The two Clippers bumped as Manning prepared to go up for the shot, sending the ball straight up. McMillan grabbed it, then got fouled and made both free throws for a 112-108 cushion with six seconds left.
"I saw Danny leaning to take the shot," Jackson said. "I tried to get out of his way, but once I was falling, I couldn't."
Said Clipper Coach Larry Brown: "It's a foul. They (McMillan) threw Mark right into Danny. . . . I don't think the refs saw it or they would have called it. It was obvious."
To all the Clippers.
"I thought it was fairly obvious," said Manning, who had a team-high 24 points. "Maybe not."
The Clippers, who lost for the 19th time in a row on the SuperSonics' court, continued their hot shooting with a 53.4% showing, but had only 73 attempts.
Losers of five of their last seven and 11 of 16, the Clippers dropped to 33-36, the first time they have been three games under .500 since the 0-3 start. Their most important game of the season is up next, Tuesday against the Lakers at the Sports Arena as the battle for seventh place in the Western Conference standings continues.
The Clippers played without Stanley Roberts, sidelined because of a sprained right ankle suffered the night before against Portland, putting Vaught into the starting lineup for the fourth time. And he responded for the fourth time, contributing 15 points and eight rebounds. Vaught averaged 21.3 points and 10 rebounds the previous three starts.
Stanley Roberts has a history of problems with his right ankle, but trainer Keith Jones says the series of injuries are unrelated. The most significant was the fractured ankle about this time last year, bringing a premature end to his 1991-92 season. Three weeks ago, Roberts twisted the joint when he landed on the foot of Heat Rony Seikaly during the opening jump ball and, because of that and foul trouble, played only 15 minutes. The cause was similar in the fourth quarter Friday, when Roberts landed on the foot of an unknown player after an attempted tip-in at Portland. He was taken off the court in a stretcher as a precaution, though it was not regarded as serious enough to take X-rays. Jones termed the injury as moderate--"more than slight and less than severe"--and said a return for the Laker game is realistic.
Kiki Vandeweghe is still on the Clippers after all. When he checked in late in the first quarter, it was the first appearance for Vandeweghe since Feb. 18, a string of 17 games. He missed five of those because of a sprained Achilles' tendon, and 12 to Coach Larry Brown's desire to give playing time to Loy Vaught and John Williams. Against Seattle, Vandeweghe made his two shots in five minutes.