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Clippers’ Shuffling Lacks Jazz

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Trying to inject some life into the Clippers, who displayed few signs of it in a tepid 16-point loss to the Miami Heat, Coach Bill Fitch on Friday altered the starting lineup that he’d employed for the first 14 games and activated guard Brent Barry.

Darrick Martin replaced Pooh Richardson at point guard and Stanley Roberts started at center in place of Kevin Duckworth against the Utah Jazz.

But the new lineup got the same old results as the Jazz extended the Clippers’ losing streak to five games with a 111-94 victory before 19,381 at the Delta Center.

“I don’t think we really improved ourselves as much as I would hope,” Fitch said. “Your minutes are going to stay the same, even when you [change starters], I just wanted another combination to see if we could get off the starting block.”

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Martin, who had 18 points in 24 minutes as a reserve against the Heat, scored 18 points in 25 minutes as a starter.

But Martin couldn’t check Jazz guard John Stockton, who scored a season-high 28 points and passed off for 10 assists as Utah, off to the best start in franchise history, extended its home winning streak against the Clippers to 13.

“You want to go against the best and Stockton is a dream-teamer and [future] Hall of Famer,” Martin said. “It was a learning experience.”

Stockton scored 11 points in the third quarter as the Jazz, which led by three points at halftime, broke the game open with a 15-2 run in the first four minutes of the quarter.

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“Stockton walked right into a couple of threes,” Fitch said. “That was as good as John has played against us.”

Fitch said he may not start Martin in tonight’s game against the New Jersey Nets at the Pond of Anaheim.

“Martin’s limited at the defensive end and tonight a guy like Stockton is going to make it a long night for a lot of guys that have the limitations size-wise at the defensive end,” Fitch said.

Roberts, who averaged 11 points and 5.3 rebounds in his first 14 games, had eight points and nine rebounds in 33 minutes. Duckworth had two points and six rebounds in 11 foul-plagued minutes.

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Fitch, who had maintained that Barry wasn’t ready to be activated, activated him before the game to replace Eric Piatkowski, who missed his second consecutive game because of flu.

Barry, who strained ligaments in his left thumb in an exhibition loss to the Orlando Magic on Oct. 15, made one of four three-point shots in four minutes and had three points, one assists, one steal and one turnover.

“He played four minutes out there and he only got one hotdog play [a botched behind the neck flip],” Fitch said. “I thought he was active. It was kind of nice having him around. I think he’ll help us.”

Barry tried to avoid any controversy about whether he should have been activated earlier.

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“The only thing I’ll comment on is about the game,” Barry said. “As far as me being activated, that’s a decision coach made and you have to talk to him about why he made that decision. I got four minutes, I felt like I could stand up for four minutes.”


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