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Robinson Resuscitates Clippers

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Clippers signed guard James (Hollywood) Robinson to a five-year, $10.5-million contract to provide instant offense.

Robinson, who averaged 8.3 points and 1.3 assists with the Minnesota Timberwolves last season, has been a bust, shooting a season-low 28.6% in his first 26 games.

However, Robinson provided instant defense as the Clippers outscored the Denver Nuggets, 12-0, in the final 2:34 for a 105-103 victory Saturday night before 5,284 at the Sports Arena.

“That’s how I play,” Robinson said. “I’m all-out. I’m always hustling. I told the guys that if they get my back, I’ll get their back.

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“It’s nothing new because that’s how I play. For the Clippers, this is probably my first game where people get a chance to see what I’m about.”

Robinson had two steals and a layup in the final 1:35 to key the Clippers’ biggest comeback of the season and avoid an embarrassing loss to the NBA’s worst team. The Nuggets are the NBA’s only winless road team, losing 15 games.

“He bailed us out tonight,” Clipper Coach Bill Fitch said of Robinson. “We were all but dead and he came along and gave us the transfusion we needed. He was the guy we’d been looking for, someone to wheel and deal for us in the fourth quarter.”

Forward Rodney Rogers, who scored a season-best 29 points, made four of six shots and had 10 points in the final quarter.

The Nuggets, riding what is now a 10-game losing streak, have won two of 27 games this season, and one came at the Clippers’ expense.

“They match up well with us,” Fitch said. “I don’t look at this as anything but another tough home game to play. Their record means nothing to me.”

With the Clippers trailing, 103-93, Rogers scored six consecutive points to make the score 103-99 with 1:35 left.

Fitch inserted Robinson, who had scored 10 points during a 14-3 run in a 2:21 span at the end of the third quarter.

Robinson made an immediate impact, tying up Eric Washington to force a timeout with 1:22 left. Robinson then stole Johnny Newman’s inbounds pass with 1:19 left and made a layup to bring the Clippers to within two.

“Right before I came in I told Brent Barry, ‘It’s time to come up with a steal,’ ” Robinson said.

Forward Lorenzen Wright, who had 15 points and 13 rebounds, made a layup with 35 seconds left and a free throw with 8.8 seconds left after Robinson stole a pass from LaPhonso Ellis with 14 seconds left to give the Clippers the lead.

Swingman Eric Piatkowski sealed the game with one free throw with 1.7 seconds left.

Fitch sent forward Lamond Murray, who had missed the last two games because of a sprained left wrist, into the game with 8 1/2 minutes remaining in the final quarter.

However, Murray, who was shooting a career-best 50.4%, didn’t help the Clippers, who were outscored, 10-0, to fall behind 97-88.

Guard Darrick Martin, who had averaged 14 points, 3.4 assists, 1.6 steals and shot 45% in his last five games, missed two of eight shots and had seven points in the first three quarters as the Clippers fell behind, 79-77.

The Clippers shot 61.9% in the first quarter, making 13 of 21 shots. Barry made five of six shots and scored 15 of his 22 points in the quarter.

But Barry played only four minutes in the second quarter, failing to score as the Nuggets outscored the Clippers, 25-19, to take a 58-53 halftime lead.

The Nuggets, who shot 61.4% in the first half, shot 52.2% in the second quarter.


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