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Clippers Can’t Seem to Relax

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Clippers had a nervous breakdown against the San Antonio Spurs. At least, that’s how Coach Bill Fitch described the 97-87 loss before 15,683 at the Sports Arena.

Leading by 15 points with 1:24 remaining in the third quarter, the Clippers were outscored, 37-12, in the final 13:24 to lose their seventh consecutive game.

“That’s what nervous breakdowns are all about,” Fitch said after the Clippers lost to the Spurs for the second time in three days. “It wasn’t that we tried to be that bad.”

Booed off the court, the Clippers were a picture of dejection as the game ended.

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“Whether they boo us or not, they’re going to have to come and see us win next month because we’re going to do it,” Fitch said.

Spur center David Robinson, who had 31 points and nine rebounds in Wednesday night’s 109-86 victory at San Antonio, had 28 points and 13 rebounds.

Robinson made four of five shots and had 10 points in the fourth quarter.

The Spurs dominated the final quarter, shooting 71.4% and outscoring the Clippers, 33-12.

Rookie forward Tim Duncan, the first player selected in the 1997 NBA draft, had 27 points and 12 rebounds.

“Those two guys showed why they’re going to the All-Star game,” Fitch said.

The Clippers never got their fastbreak going in the fourth quarter, shooting 26%.

Forward Lamond Murray, who missed all 11 shots he took in Wednesday night’s game, had 26 points and nine rebounds, making 10 of 14 shots.

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“We knew they were going to make a run, but we weren’t able to sustain it,” Murray said.

“I think we were still fresh down the stretch, but once they took control of the game they went to the big guys and finished it off.”

Rookie forward Maurice Taylor missed four of five shots and had five points and five rebounds.

“He was trying too hard,” Fitch said.

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The Clippers missed eight of their first 10 shots in the fourth quarter as they were outscored, 19-5, in the first eight minutes.

With the Clippers trailing, 87-82, with 2:26 remaining, Lorenzen Wright missed two free throws and Robinson answered with a dunk to give the Spurs an 89-82 lead with 2:10 remaining.

The NBA’s worst defensive team, the Clippers finally played tough in the first half.

The Spurs, who had shot better than 50% in their last three games, shot 36.2% in the first half, missing 30 of 47 shots.

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Robinson, who had shot 71% in his last five games, missed six of 11 shots in the first half.

The Clippers, who led, 46-44, at halftime, limited the Spurs to 33.3% shooting in the second quarter.

Fitch altered his starting lineup after Wednesday night’s 23-point loss to the Spurs, benching center Stojko Vrankovic, who played only seven scoreless minutes before leaving because of flu.

Wright, who sat out seven of nine games because of knee and ankle injuries, started at center and held his own for a while against Robinson, making five of eight shots in the first quarter and getting 10 points and four rebounds.

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However, Wright scored only two points in the final three quarters.


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