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Color the Clippers Losers to the Spurs : Pro basketball: Rodman grabs 21 rebounds and debuts yet another hair shade in 108-97 victory.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Dennis Rodman, the NBA’s clown prince, unveiled a Bozo the Clown coiffure Tuesday night.

But his play and the San Antonio Spurs were no joke to the Clippers.

Rodman, who grabbed a season-high 22 rebounds in the Spurs’ 15-point victory over the Clippers last Saturday night at the Sports Arena, got 21 rebounds and 10 points in 32 minutes as a reserve as the Spurs won the rematch, 108-97, before 15,729 at the Alamodome.

All-Star center David Robinson, who had 33 points and 11 rebounds in the Spurs’ fifth consecutive victory, collapsed because of a minor back injury after making a follow shot in the fourth quarter and sat out the final three minutes.

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The Spurs announced that Robinson strained his lower back, but the injury isn’t believed to be serious.

“Really, I don’t have a history of (back injuries),” Robinson said. “It happened this last week on this last road trip. At Golden State (Oakland) they had these really soft beds and I think that was what started it. The whole road trip was just tough on me. Yesterday I didn’t practice because of it and today it really tightened up on me.

“There’s nothing they can really do about it. It feels like there’s a big knot sitting in my lower back.”

But Rodman took over in the fourth quarter, getting 10 rebounds and six points as the Spurs, who trailed, 83-81, two minutes into the fourth quarter, put the Clippers away with a 15-2 spurt.

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“Dennis is a phenomenal basketball player,” said forward Chuck Person, who scored 16 points.

“He plays tough minutes and he knows the game very well and he’s obviously an exceptional rebounder. But the guy can score, I don’t know why he doesn’t shoot more. We’ve tried to encourage him to put the ball in the hole and he’s trying to be more aggressive when he gets the ball.”

Led by Rodman and Person, the Spurs’ reserves outscored the Clippers’ reserves, 41-14, and outrebounded them, 31-2.

Rodman, who changes his hair color as often as Madonna, dyed his hair red and green for the holiday season. He later dyed his hair orange.

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Rodman, who promised a reporter on Monday that he’d try something new, has now dyed his hair the same shade of red as Bozo.

Rodman, who led the league in technicals, ejections and delay of game violations last season, threw a temper tantrum after Coach Bob Hill pulled him with five minutes left in the first half after he was called for delay of game.

He strutted off the court without looking at Hill, pulling his jersey out of his shorts. He pounded a courtside advertising sign on the end line three times in frustration as he sat on the court.

Rodman, suspended for the first 17 games of the season, didn’t keep sulking, however, returning with 2:59 remaining in the second quarter, grabbing four rebounds and setting up guard Vinny Del Negro for a layup as the Spurs ended the half with a 6-1 spurt to take a 54-50 halftime lead.

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“Dennis is doing great,” Robinson said. “He’s really controlling himself. In the last month since he’s been back there have been a lot of bad calls on him, and he hasn’t responded to it very much. He’s been fantastic in the games. It looks like he’s really focusing in on what he needs to get accomplished.”

The Spurs are having more fun since Rodman was removed from the suspended list on Dec. 10, winning 11 of 12 games.

But the Clippers (5-27), who led 81-79 going into the fourth quarter, were unable to sustain their intensity, making only four of 19 shots (21%) in the fourth quarter as they were outscored, 29-16.

“We got stuck on 85,” Clipper Coach Bill Fitch said. “We had nine possessions and four shots that I think I could make.”

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Fitch might have made them, but his players didn’t.

Clipper Notes

Clipper forward Malik Sealy, who wasn’t in uniform for the last two games after spraining his left ankle, was in uniform for Tuesday night’s game but didn’t play. . . . Spur center Moses Malone was sidelined because he ruptured a tendon in his right ankle in practice on Monday. He is out indefinitely.


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