Fitch Loses It Along With the Clippers


Bill Fitch had seen enough.

Angry because he thought referee David Jones was missing too many calls in the Clippers’ 117-109 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves at the Target Center on Monday, the Clipper coach stormed onto the court with 5:59 left.

Fitch, who has a full head of hair at 63, mocked Jones, who is bald, pulling his hair up.

Jones ejected Fitch.

“I just wanted to know if the hair got in his eyes on the call,” Fitch said. “That’s why he tossed me. There wasn’t any profanity involved. I showed you what I thought of their calls.”

Fitch, who needs two victories to reach 939 and move past Red Auerbach as the second-winningest coach in NBA history, has been ejected 47 times in his 26-year NBA career. Only Dick Motta, with 59 ejections, and Don Nelson, who had 56 at the start of the season, have been kicked out of more games.


“I’ve been around longer than most,” Fitch said. “Probably if you consider the average [number of ejections] out there, I’m one of the kindest, most gentle guys around.

“I really don’t get into officiating that much. If you look at my track record, I don’t talk about them [to reporters], I let them know out there on the floor.

“Night in and night out, the refereeing has been pretty good. I would have been kicked out of many more games had they all been called like today’s game.”

Fitch, thrown out of a game for the first time since Jan. 30, 1995, wasn’t the only frustrated Clipper, just the most demonstrative.

Center Stojko Vrankovic drew a technical from Jones after he was called for his fifth foul with 7:16 left in the third quarter.

Vrankovic, upset after getting three fouls in three minutes, was angry because Jones didn’t give him an explanation. He was muttering obscenities as he walked to the bench.


“I just asked him what I did wrong and he said, ‘Get out [of] my face,’ ” Vrankovic said.

Guard James Robinson also got a technical from Jones, just before Fitch was ejected, after complaining when rookie Maurice Taylor got an offensive foul.

“I really can’t say what I was mad about because if I said, I know I’d get fined,” Robinson said. “I’m just tired of losing.

“You get frustrated out there. I’m not a fussy person. I just said to the guy [Jones] what I felt about the situation and I guess he showed me by giving me a tech.

“I’m not going to criticize [the officials] in their job. They don’t criticize me in my job.

“I think the guys responded well when coach was kicked out.”

The Clippers trailed, 102-89, when Fitch was sent to the locker room

Forward Rodney Rogers, who missed the final 16 1/2 minutes of Saturday night’s loss at Washington after being hit in the left eye by Wizard forward Chris Webber, had 11 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter.

“We still had to play when Coach got kicked out,” Rogers said. “We were behind and we had to make a run and try to come back. We just couldn’t stop playing.”


Rogers, wearing clear goggles after having said he wouldn’t, made 11 of 23 shots, including two three-point baskets.

Forward Lorenzen Wright, after sitting out four consecutive games because of a sprained right ankle, had six points and eight rebounds in 22 minutes.

The Clippers finished their longest trip of the season at 1-5.