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Clippers Set Team Record for Fewest Points in 90-68 Loss : Pro basketball: L.A. has two 10-point quarters in Fitch’s return to Cleveland.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Clipper Coach Bill Fitch, the first coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers, returned to his roots Monday.

Fitch, who coached the Cavaliers from 1970-79, was asked to autograph a photograph of himself throwing a chair at a referee during a 1970 game.

“It was the most expensive piece of furniture I ever bought,” Fitch said. “It cost me $5,000. I still have the chair.”

Fitch probably felt like throwing a chair again as he watched his newest rebuilding project, the Clippers, set a team record for fewest points in a game as they stumbled to their third consecutive loss, 90-68, before a crowd of 20,187 at the Gund Arena.

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And the hecklers weren’t kind to Fitch.

“Hey Bill, is your team really that bad?” a fan behind the bench yelled.

Yes, the Clippers were that bad.

The Clippers (6-34) matched a season low by scoring only 10 points in the second quarter and only 10 again in the fourth as they lost for the 18th time in their last 22 games.

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“Thank God, the biggest fear every night when you have our record, is that every night could have been like that and it hasn’t been,” Fitch said. “We really put one together tonight.

“I’d hate to be the guy that had to break the tie between which was the ugliest offensive quarter, our fourth or our second. Both were 10 (points), right? I guess the second one would be because the second we were still in the game and the fourth we were playing a lot of guys that normally don’t play and I guess they showed why they don’t.

“It’s a helluva way to come back to Cleveland. I love the people and I love the building, I just didn’t like the way we played tonight.”

The Clippers, who shot 70.6% (12 of 17) in the first quarter and led, 26-20, going into the second, when they shot 21.1% and were outscored by 19 points. The Cavaliers, who trailed, 30-20, early in the second quarter, took control of the game with a 20-2 spurt in a 6 1/2-minute span.

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Why did the Clippers play so poorly in the second quarter?

“They greased the rims during one of those timeouts,” Fitch said. “We quit passing the basketball. We played like this was the end of the trip rather than the beginning.”

Clipper forward Loy Vaught, who made four of five shots and scored eight points in the first quarter, said the Clippers got selfish. Vaught scored only two points in the final three quarters, making four of seven shots as the Clippers shot 30.8% in the final three quarters.

“We quit playing the same style,” Vaught said. “In the first quarter we came out passing the ball around and finding the open man and making things happen.

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“The guys started playing selfish. I’m not going to name names, but it was brought up at halftime. It’s like a cancer. Other guys felt like, ‘Well, let me get my shots up’ and we quit playing.”

Vaught said Fitch, who had eased up on practices recently after several players complained of having tired legs, informed the team after the game that he will intensify practice.

“He said, ‘We’re going to start practicing hard,’ and that was the last thing I wanted to hear,” Vaught said. “After this game he said the only way he knows how to fix things is by going back to that hard work.”

The Clippers, who defeated the Cavaliers, 92-83, last Wednesday at the Sports Arena, didn’t work very hard Monday night.

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Clipper Notes

The Cavaliers announced after the game that point guard Mark Price will be sidelined six to eight weeks because of a broken right wrist. Price, who was injured when he fell to the floor in the second quarter of a game at Oakland on Jan. 14, will undergo surgery Wednesday. . . . Clipper guard Malik Sealy sprained his right ankle when he landed on Cavalier guard Bobby Phills late in the third quarter. However, X-rays showed that Sealy didn’t fracture his ankle. Sealy missed three games earlier this month with a sprained left ankle. . . . Clipper guard Randy Woods and Cavalier guard John Battle were ejected with 42 seconds remaining in the game after trading barbs. Woods said he will appeal the automatic $1,000 fine. . . . The previous Los Angeles/San Diego Clipper record for fewest points in a game was established in a 121-73 loss at Portland last month. The franchise record for fewest points in a game was set in a 91-63 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on Oct. 21, 1972, when the franchise was still located in Buffalo. . . . Forward Tyrone Hill had 23 points and 14 rebounds as the Cavaliers (25-14) took a one game Central Division lead over the Charlotte Hornets, who lost to the Lakers, 108-102.


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