Clippers, Rain Can’t Stop Shaq


Laker center Shaquille O’Neal, who has the Superman symbol tattooed on his left arm, isn’t faster than a speeding bullet and he can’t leap tall buildings in a single bound.

But he can leap over the Clippers.

O’Neal made nine of his first 10 shots and scored 32 points as the Lakers beat the Clippers for the third time in three games this season, 125-115, Friday night before a sellout crowd of 16,027 at the Sports Arena.

O’Neal showed up at 6:45 for the 7:30 start after getting stuck in traffic on the Southland’s rain-soaked streets.


“I’ll let you play anyway,” Laker Coach Del Harris quipped as O’Neal walked by.

And after Mother Nature failed to stop O’Neal, the Clippers didn’t get any breaks from technology either. The lights went out at the Sports Arena 10 minutes after the game.

“Too bad this didn’t happen two hours ago,” Clipper Coach Bill Fitch said.

“You would expect a little better sportsmanship,” Harris deadpanned when the power failed as he was addressing the media.

O’Neal, who had a season-best 38 points in Wednesday’s victory over the Milwaukee Bucks, made 14 of 20 shots and had seven rebounds and two assists.

On the other hand, Clipper centers Stojko Vrankovic and Keith Closs combined for six points and eight rebounds.

Vrankovic had no points and five rebounds before fouling out with 2:52 remaining and Closs had six points and two rebounds in 18 minutes.

O’Neal, looking as if he was auditioning to replace point guard Nick Van Exel, set up Elden Campbell and Eddie Jones for second-quarter dunks with sensational passes.


Fitch said the Clippers contained O’Neal in the second half, limiting him to nine points.

“I don’t think he hurt us as much in the second half,” Fitch said. “You’re not going to guard him one on one. He’s a hell of a player. You have to stop people different ways.”

Vrankovic was unable to contain O’Neal and got into early foul trouble. Vrankovic, who got a technical, went to the bench after drawing his fourth foul with 5:42 left in the second quarter.

Closs, the 7-foot-3 rookie who set an NCAA shot-blocking record at Central Connecticut State, also was unable to handle O’Neal, who spun around him for a dunk with 3:19 left in the second quarter.

“I sprained my ankle the last game and it was tough trying to guard him,” Closs said.

Maybe Fitch should have assigned forward Rodney Rogers to check O’Neal. Rogers blocked an O’Neal baseline jumper in the final minute of the first half.

Fitch got into a shouting match with guard Brent Barry when Barry came to the bench during a timeout with 7:32 remaining in the third quarter.

Barry had trouble guarding Eddie Jones, who had 27 points on 10-of-15 shooting.

“We were just discussing a play,” Barry said, downplaying the incident.

Rookie forward Maurice Taylor, who had a career-best 25 points in his last game, increased that to 26 points before fouling out with 7:20 remaining in the fourth quarter.


The Clippers, the NBA’s worst defensive team going into the game, giving up 101.6 points per game, gave up 103 in the first three quarters and trailed by 16 points going into the final quarter.

They rallied to within seven points when Eric Piatkowski made a three-point shot with 4:25 remaining. But O’Neal answered with a layup and a dunk.

O’Neal had 23 points, six rebounds and two assists in the first half as the Lakers scored a season-best 72 points to take a nine-point halftime lead.

O’Neal scored four points in the first four minutes of the third quarter before leaving the game after picking up his fourth foul with 8:10 remaining in the quarter.

The Clippers, who lost to the Lakers by seven points in overtime on Dec. 26, started fast, taking a seven-point lead as Lamond Murray scored seven points.

However, the Lakers ended the first quarter with a 29-13 run to take a 38-29 lead.

Jones, averaging 19 points in his last five games, made four of six shots and had 11 points as the Lakers shot 61.9% in the first quarter.


Kobe Bryant had 10 points in seven minutes as a reserve.

Jones said the Lakers (27-8) should have put away the Clippers (9-26).

“I don’t consider it a good win,” Jones said. “We let them get back in the game. We let them get confidence.”




1990-91: Lakers, 4-0

1991-92: Lakers, 3-2

1992-93: Clippers, 3-2

1993-94: Lakers, 3-2

1994-95: Lakers, 3-2

1995-96: Lakers, 4-0

1996-97: Tied, 2-2


Nov. 23: Lakers 119, Clippers 102

Dec. 26: Lakers 118, Clippers 114 (OT)

Jan. 9: Lakers 125, Clippers 115

March 12: Lakers vs. Clippers at Anaheim


Clippers winning % against Lakers in ‘90s: .314

Clipper overall winning % in ‘90s: .386

Laker winning % against Clippers in ‘90s: .686

Laker overall winning % in ‘90s: .586