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Clippers Defeat Grizzlies, 98-91, and Roberts Pulls His Weight : Pro basketball: Center has 11 points, seven rebounds and four blocked shots as a reserve. Sealy scores 29 points and grabs 13 rebounds.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Much maligned Vancouver Grizzly center Benoit Benjamin, who spent the first 5 1/2 seasons of his NBA career with the Clippers, sympathizes with Clipper center Stanley Roberts, who reported to training camp overweight and out of shape.

“In L.A., the biggest I ever got was 283 pounds,” said Benjamin, who weighs 262 pounds after a vigorous off-season conditioning program. “The [Clippers] wanted to make a big deal out of it. They made me go get all kinds of [tests] and the doctors finally told them that my natural playing weight was 275. Even when I was 283, I was only eight pounds overweight. That was their excuse, my weight. But I still got the stats.

“They had to have a scapegoat. I know Stan is taking a beating, but if he hangs in there and is tough, he’ll be OK. Stanley is a talented guy. I just hope he can keep himself together.”

Roberts, who has sat out 150 games over the last two seasons because of Achilles’ tendon injuries, had his best outing of the season, getting 11 points, seven rebounds and four blocked shots as a reserve as the Clippers beat the Grizzlies, 98-91, before 17,345 at GM Place Friday night.

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Playing the second and fourth quarters in place of starter Brian Williams, who was hit in the groin by former UCLA guard Darrick Martin, Roberts made four of seven shots in 22 minutes. Williams has made only four of 18 shots in his last two games.

“It was his longest game and he made more game plays,” Clipper Coach Bill Fitch said. “Tonight he was in there when the game was on the line. He made a couple real big plays for us.

“I’m happy with the win, but I couldn’t be more pleased with his play tonight. Maybe it’s the kind of thing that can lift us. I’m sure that it’s going to help his confidence.”

Roberts hopes to build on this game.

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“One good game doesn’t mean anything,” Roberts said. “I’ve got to keep working. I’m going to take it one game at a time.”

Guard Malik Sealy scored a season-high 29 points, five shy of his career high, as the Clippers ended a three-game losing streak. Sealy also had a career-high 13 rebounds and tied his career high with four steals.

Fitch reached a milestone, tying Jack Ramsay as the fourth winningest coach in NBA history. Fitch has compiled a record of 864-945.

The Clippers, who played like an expansion team last season, compiling the NBA’s worst record, played Friday night as if they expected the expansion Grizzlies, who were coming off a 49-point loss at San Antonio, to roll over and play dead.

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Leading by 12 points at halftime, the Clippers were outscored, 27-11, in the first nine minutes of the third quarter as the Grizzlies tied it, 70-70, going into the fourth quarter.

The Grizzlies had a chance to cut it to one, but Benjamin missed a hook with 19 seconds left and Eric Piatkowski made two free throws with 14.7 seconds left to give the Clippers a five-point lead.

Guard Brent Barry, who started his second consecutive game at point guard, played only 16 minutes.


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