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Clippers Get a “D” for Effort in Loss

TIMES STAFF WRITER

For the Minnesota Timberwolves, it was merely a routine Clipper game sandwiched between two intense matchups with the Utah Jazz on the way to the playoffs.

For the Clippers, it was No. 79 of 82.

And counting.

Down by only three points in the fourth quarter Monday night, the Clippers folded up and went home after a 107-88 loss to Minnesota before an announced crowd of 9,158 at the Sports Arena.

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It was the Clippers’ eighth loss in a row and 63rd of the season.

“I hope these last three, we give a good effort, that’s all I can say,” said point guard Darrick Martin, who came off the bench behind Pooh Richardson. “I hope we play it out, don’t just mentally . . . That’s not what this league’s about.

“We cut it to six and then we stopped playing. And I had a couple of bad turnovers.”

Down by 13 late in the third quarter, the Clippers scored the first seven points of the fourth quarter to cut the lead to 82-79.

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Lamond Murray’s driving dunk and free throw after he was fouled and Darrick Martin’s winding drive through the lane for a layup got the Clippers close.

But after that, Minnesota outscored the Clippers, 25-9, the rest of the way.

The Clippers missed shots, were sloppy with the ball, and gave up on defense at the end, allowing Bill Curley to score the final four points with ease.

“I don’t know what we hit from the outside, but it wasn’t very good,” Clipper Coach Bill Fitch said. “Post-up passing, turnovers and failure to hit anything from the outside.”

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The Clippers’ Lamond Murray played well, anyway, with 23 points and a career-high 17 rebounds.

“He had a great night,” Clipper Coach Bill Fitch said.

Rodney Rogers added 18 points, but bad shooting performances by James Robinson (three for 11) and Pooh Richardson (two for nine) helped do the Clippers in. They also committed 17 turnovers.

Minnesota was fresh off a 110-103 victory over the Utah Jazz on Saturday that assured the Timberwolves the first winning season in franchise history.

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“Minnesota is playing very well right now,” Fitch said. “Those two kids [Kevin Garnett and Stephon Marbury] are paying off for them now. Marbury is a heck of a player.”

The victory over the Clippers was the Timberwolves’ fifth in a row and their 10th in their last 13 games.

Today, they’ll be in Salt Lake City for a rematch with the Jazz, a team they could end up facing in the playoffs.

“They’re going to play hard with a lot at stake,” Minnesota Coach Flip Saunders said. “Right now they have a half-game lead for homecourt advantage. They can’t afford to lose at home, then go on the road having to win against Phoenix and the Lakers.”

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Kevin Garnett did the job for Minnesota most of the game, though, scoring 23 points and adding 10 rebounds. Anthony Peeler scored 21 points, and Stephon Marbury had 14 points and eight assists.

As for the Clippers, they even had a six-point lead in the second quarter before the Timberwolves erased it with a 12-0 run.


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