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Clippers Cry Foul After Spurs Put It Away on the Line

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Clipper guard James Robinson rarely loses his temper but he lost it Wednesday night against the San Antonio Spurs, and the Clippers lost for the 17th time in 21 games, 102-87, before 14,982 at the Alamodome.

Angry after Spur rookie forward Tim Duncan went over his back and stole a rebound, Robinson grabbed the ball and slammed it to the court with 8:17 remaining in the fourth quarter and the Clippers trailing, 83-74. Referee Ken Mauer ejected Robinson, who was escorted off the court by two police officers.

“To be honest, I didn’t even see what happened,” said Robinson, the first Clipper to leave the locker room after the game. “What did it look like to you? They had been hacking all night and I just got frustrated with it. A lot of guys throw balls.”

Although Robinson had only five points, five rebounds and three assists, he did a good job of checking Spur point guard Avery Johnson, who registered a career-best 20 assists. Johnson, who had seven points in the fourth quarter as the Spurs outscored the Clippers, 27-17, made three shots after Robinson was ejected for the first time in his five-year NBA career.

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“We missed Robinson on Avery Johnson,” Clipper Coach Bill Fitch said. “When he left, AJ went nuts. He hit three quick field goals, so we missed him defensively.”

Clipper guard Darrick Martin, who drew a technical with 8:39 remaining in the third quarter, thought the officiating crew of Eddie F. Rush, James Capers and Mauer didn’t give the Clippers any breaks.

“We just want our fair shake,” Martin said. “I think that’s what Hollywood [Robinson] was trying to express, and that’s what I was trying to express. It’s nothing derogatory. We just want to win bad. That’s all”

Fitch, who sighed when a Spur official handed him a card with the officiating crew on it before the game, noted that the Spurs shot 39 free throws, including 24 in the second half. The Clippers shot 20 free throws, eight in the second half.

Center David Robinson, who had 30 points and nine rebounds as the Spurs ended a three-game losing streak, tied a franchise record for free throws in a game by making 18 of 20.

“It seemed like if they didn’t hit their shots we were sending them to the line,” guard Eric Piatkowski said. “They hit the free throws that we gave them, and that’s where they really hurt us.”

Clipper guard Brent Barry, who had sat out five games because of a calf injury, had 11 points, three rebounds and two assists in 22 minutes. Barry, averaging a 4.3 rebounds, 3.1 assists, a team-high 16.1 points and 35.3 minutes before he bruised his left calf, made two of five shots.

“It would have been better if we won, but it was nice just to get out there and play,” Barry said. “But the end result is how we played as a team.

“I felt pretty good once I was able to loosen up, but there are still some things that I can’t do. I had a couple of breakaways where I wanted to explode to the basket, but I can’t do that yet.”

Barry started the third quarter and helped the Clippers, who trailed by as many as 22 points in the second quarter, get back in the game. They got as close as three points at 73-70 before the Spurs pulled away.


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