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Fitch Is Disgusted by His ‘Mailmen’ : Clippers: Lack of effort in 105-86 loss to Spurs has coach ready to explode.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Bill Fitch knew there would be nights like this when he was hired to rebuild the Clippers last year.

Fitch was livid after watching his team collapse in the final 17 minutes of Wednesday night’s 105-86 loss to the San Antonio Spurs before 13,206 at the Alamodome.

“If some of those guys had played like that for one day in camp, they’d have never made this team,” Fitch said after the Clippers lost their third consecutive game. “If they’d shown that attitude about the game, that docile attitude of turning the other cheek. . . .

“You’ve never seen me this [angry]. I can take losing, I’ve proven that. What I can’t take is when you’ve got two or three guys mailing it in. You don’t mail it in around here anymore.”

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With the score tied at 62-62, the Clippers were outscored, 18-5, in the final 5:01 of the third quarter. Spur center David Robinson, who had a season-high 33 points and 11 rebounds, had 10 of his 13 third-quarter points in the spurt. The Clippers, who shot 26.3% in the third quarter, missed five of their final six shots.

Guard Malik Sealy, who missed six of 10 shots as the Clippers shot 39.5%, doesn’t think Clippers quit.

“He’s entitled to his opinion,” Sealy said of Fitch. “I don’t think guys are packing it in like the season’s over. Hell, we’ve only played 15 games. There’s 67 more.

“I don’t agree with that [that the Clippers quit]. We just had mental lapses. We’ve got to play 48 minutes. We were in the game and we got into a stretch where we just went haywire and we didn’t recover from it. They did all the right things and we did all the wrong things. I don’t think anybody quit. We made some bumbleheaded plays.”

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Center Brian Williams also appeared disgusted after the Clippers (7-8) were outscored, 43-24, in the final 1 1/2 quarters. Williams, who missed seven of 10 shots and had nine points and 11 rebounds, sat on a locker room chair staring at the floor with his head buried in his hands long after the game.

“I have absolutely nothing to say,” Williams said.

Fitch benched rookie point guard Brent Barry, who had started the last 11 games, inserting Terry Dehere into the starting lineup.

Dehere had 14 points, seven assists and three rebounds in 33 minutes; Barry failed to score in 15 minutes, missing all six shots he took.

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“If [injured point guard Pooh] Richardson comes back and Barry continues to play like that, he’ll get less time from here on out,” Fitch said. “He wasn’t guarding anybody. Did you see him handle the ball at the end of the ballgame? You can’t play like that.”

Barry took his demotion in stride.

“He hasn’t talked to me about it,” Barry said. “Whatever he’s told you, I guess I’d better read about it. If coach says I wasn’t [playing defense], then I wasn’t doing it.”

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Clipper Notes

X-rays revealed that center Stanley Roberts fractured a bone in his left ankle in the fourth quarter of Tuesday night’s 116-103 loss at Houston. Roberts, who has sat out 150 games over the last two seasons because of Achilles’ tendon injuries, is scheduled to undergo an MRI exam today at Daniel Freeman Hospital in Inglewood to determine the extent of his injury. “Right now we’re treating it like a sprained ankle because we don’t know if that fracture has been there from an old ankle sprain or if it’s new,” trainer Keith Jones said. Roberts said he’s frustrated by his latest injury. “I’ve got to focus on healing, rehab and keeping the weight off,” Roberts said. “Hopefully I can come back real soon. I think I’ll be back this season, from what they indicated, no later than All-Star weekend.”

Spur forward Sean Elliot sat out the game because of a sore right Achilles’ tendon. Chuck Person, who started in his place, made a franchise record five three-pointers in the first half and had a season-high 22 points and eight rebounds. . . . Point guard Avery Johnson had 13 points and 14 assists for the Spurs. . . . Obstructed-view and standing-room tickets for Saturday night’s game against the Chicago Bulls at The Pond of Anaheim will go on sale today at The Pond box office.


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