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Martin, Gimpy Clippers Leave Jazz Feeling Flat

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The more famous they were, the harder they fell Monday night when John Stockton was ambushed by a backup, the Mailman got a late start on his appointed rounds and the fastest start in Jazz history ran into. . . .

The Clippers?

Yes, the Clippers, losers of five in a row, with two centers on the injured list and an injured point guard, Pooh Richardson, giving reserve Darrick Martin the chance to have the game of his life, 38 points and eight assists worth, in a 115-101 romp at the Sports Arena.

“Long time coming,” Martin said. “I feel like I’ve been blessed with some talent. I was able to show it tonight. “If you ever saw me in high school, this was like one of my high school games.”

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Appropriately or not, Martin’s coach at UCLA, Jim Harrick, sat court side next to Clipper owner Donald T. Sterling as the third-year pro equaled his season high by halftime and got his career high in the third quarter.

“That,” Martin said, “has nothing to do with what I’m doing now.”

Actually, their time together could have ended better. In his senior season, Martin lost his job to freshman Tyus Edney. Martin played with Magic Johnson’s touring team and in the CBA before one-season stints in Minnesota and Vancouver led him back here.

Monday, he hit an 18-footer on the Clippers’ first possession and a three-pointer in their sixth and the night of his life was on. He hit two more three-point shots in the first quarter. He had 18 by halftime, 30 by the start of the fourth quarter as the Clippers led by as many as 21 points.

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The Jazz, off to a franchise-best 22-6 start, had a rare night. Stockton turned the ball over five times, as did running mate Jeff Hornacek, Karl Malone finished with a respectable 22 points but 16 of them came in the second half, when a game but gimpy bunch of Clippers had all but won it.

Rodney Rogers hadn’t practiced for two days, since he hurt his neck and reported numbness in the loss to the Portland Trail Blazers.

Dwayne Schintzius, the replacement for injured Kevin Duckworth, reaggravated his sore ankle.

Brent Barry, who’d been suffering back spasms, had an MRI exam but it was negative.

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Richardson, who hadn’t been in uniform in three games or played in five, was available but Bill Fitch said he’d only be used in an emergency.

“He isn’t 100%,” said Fitch before the game. “If I put him on Stockton, they might get me for cruelty.”

Instead, he put Martin on Stockton and the result was not only cruel but shocking. Martin launched into the game of his life, scoring 16 points in the first quarter in which he made five of six shots and three of four three-pointers.

The Clippers sped into a 34-22 lead after one period, after which, of course, the Jazz began catching up. With Martin out and Terry Dehere running the team, Utah closed to within 43-37 with 4:48 left in the half.

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At that point, Martin came back in . . . and darned if it didn’t happen again.

The Clippers blitzed the Jazz again, closing the half with a 14-4 run. At the half, the Clippers’ starting guards, Martin and Malik Sealy, had 28 points, the more famous Jazz tandem of Stockton and Hornacek had 14 points and seven turnovers (four for Hornacek, three for Stockton.)

Stockton was so frustrated, at one point, after being called for a charging foul, he bared his teeth at referee Ronnie Nunn and cocked the basketball as if to throw it at him.


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