It's Becoming Business as Usual for Clippers : Pro basketball: Losing streak reaches seven for L.A., which falls apart in the second half of a 112-94 loss to Minnesota.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Clippers began the season with such promise, winning six of their first nine games for their best start since they were the Buffalo Braves 20 years ago.

But the Clippers have begun to play like, well, the Clippers, extending their losing streak to seven with a 112-94 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves Friday night before 10,948 at the Target Center.

"It's getting to me," forward Malik Sealy said after the Clippers (7-12) lost for the ninth time in their last 10 games. "We started out so well, but now we're in a little bit of a slide. In order to compete in this league you've got to be consistent.

"We're playing like we're not confident we can win. It has a lot do with us giving games away. Every time we get back in a game we make a play we shouldn't make. We have to understand that in order to win we have to keep our focus for 48 minutes, not in stretches for two or three minutes."

The Clippers, who led, 60-53, in the third quarter, collapsed and were outscored, 17-0, in 3:22 as the Timberwolves (5-11) took control.

Isaiah Rider had 13 of his game-high 27 points in the third quarter and Christian Laettner had nine of his 26 points in the quarter as the Timberwolves shot 66.7%.

After the Clippers cut the deficit to six points in the final quarter, they were outscored, 20-8, in the final 7:44 as the Timberwolves beat them for the fifth time in their last six meetings.

"I wish I knew why the ball goes in some nights and it doesn't the other nights," Clipper Coach Bill Fitch said after his team, which led by seven at halftime, was outscored, 65-40, in the second half.

The Clippers were almost as bad as the replacement officials, who called technical fouls on center Brian Williams, and Fitch, who was angry after the Timberwolves shot 29 more free throws than the Clippers.

"I can't wait until Tuesday [when the regular NBA officials return]," said Williams, who had seven points and three rebounds in 23 minutes before fouling out.

"I need to go to a Tony Robbins stress reduction course just to deal with the referees. I think I need a few pints of milk every day to cool my ulcers, and I don't even have them yet. I know they're on their way. There's enough stress trying to win a basketball game. You don't need that added stress, I tell you. You always have differences with the regular refs, but never like this.

"I've played this game a long time. You know when you commit a foul. Even in the heat of the game, you know what's a foul and you know what's not a foul. A lot of players think they never foul. Hey, I foul, but I've never had this many fouls in the manner that they've been called.

"I don't know if they teach that [what's a foul] in the church league before they came here."

Guard Pooh Richardson was the only bright spot for the Clippers, who had a season-high 24 turnovers.

Playing in his second game after missing the first 14 games of the season with a foot injury, Richardson had 13 points and seven assists in 20 minutes as a reserve. He had five assists in the second quarter as the Clippers outscored the Timberwolves, 35-21.

"When I was in there I just tried to push the team hard and tried to get them up to the tempo," Richardson said. "But we made too many offensive mistakes."

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