Crawling Home After Bad Journey

Times Staff Writer

Other than seeing their best player fitted for crutches and losing twice to the Seattle SuperSonics, the Clippers enjoyed a lovely week in Japan.

Or, put another way, what a waste of time and energy.

They're 0-2 for the seventh consecutive season, giving up 116.5 points a game and expected to be without Elton Brand, their leading scorer and rebounder the last two seasons, through the first quarter of the season.

What's a coach to do?

"You've got to, basically, keep working the fundamentals," Coach Mike Dunleavy said Saturday before the Clippers boarded a Sunday flight out of Tokyo that was scheduled to land at Los Angeles International Airport this morning. "We've got to do a lot of film work....

"Guys have got to see their mistakes and understand what they're doing so they can improve. They've just got to take pride in their work. We're going to have to crawl before we walk, and we're going to have to walk before we run."

Against the SuperSonics, who are not expected to make the playoffs in the beefed-up Western Conference and who made the trip without injured three-time All-Star Ray Allen, the Clippers mostly stumbled.

In the Saitama Super Arena at Saitama, they never led in Thursday's 109-100 season-opening loss, in which Brand contributed 21 points, 15 rebounds and eight blocked shots despite a broken right foot. And they trailed for all but a few minutes in the first quarter of Saturday's 124-105 loss.

"They were a team that, they handled the ball better, they passed the ball better and they shot the ball better," Dunleavy said of the SuperSonics, who made 53.5% of their shots in the second game. Forward Rashard Lewis made 18 of 25 shots while scoring a career-high 50 points Saturday.

Dunleavy said of the Clippers, who don't play again until Friday night at Denver: "For the most part, they try to play hard. We've just got to do a better job of playing smart. We've got to understand we're not as deep as we thought we were going to be and we've got to be a lot more efficient."


In two trips to Japan, the Clippers are 0-4, the SuperSonics 4-0.... Chris Wilcox, who started Saturday in place of Brand, had 13 points and four rebounds in 20 minutes.... Ronald Murray, who filled in for Allen, scored 46 points in the two games after scoring 27 in 62 minutes all last season as a rookie.

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