Clippers’ ship never leaves port

Times Staff Writer

If the eternal bridesmaid can offer guidance on a favored wedding gown based on experience, then, in that mode, so too can the Clippers offer their own firsthand perspective.

Which team that recently offered them drubbings fits their fancy as title contenders?

The Clippers emerged from an eight-day storm battered and bruised against top-tier teams, culminating with a 103-73 loss to the overpowering Detroit Pistons on Saturday night at Staples Center.

For the undermanned Clippers, their recent losses to the Lakers, Boston and now Detroit came by an eye-shielding average of 24.7 points. The defeat to the Pistons was their worst loss of the season, coming days after a 26-point loss to Boston.


“I still think they are the team to beat in the East,” point guard Brevin Knight said of the Pistons. “They have a proven track record with their veterans and by how their bench is playing. The Lakers are on a tear, though.”

Although guard Chauncey Billups tended to personal matters and did not play, the Pistons rolled to an 11th consecutive victory over the Clippers.

Rasheed Wallace made his first seven shots en route to 17 points. Tayshaun Prince amassed 22 points and 10 assists, none more impressive than his last, a soft lob that Jason Maxiell slammed solidly home early in the fourth quarter. Detroit improved to 43-16.

Many in the sold-out crowd of 19,271 were proud Piston fans, awaiting their arrival and shouting “Sheeeeed” every time Wallace touched the ball.

“We’ve got the last of them tonight,” a weathered and hopeful Clippers Coach Mike Dunleavy said.

His team’s revolving door of players continues to shutter open and shut. Chris Kaman returned from a bothersome lower back, scoring his first points with a driving dunk followed by a layup, but he did not convert a field goal in the middle quarters and finished five for 17 from the field with 13 points and 14 rebounds.


“Basketball can go one way or the other, and it’s not going the way we want right now,” Kaman said. “I don’t think it’s going to for the rest of this year to be honest. Regardless of injuries or not injuries, we should still play the right way and we don’t and it’s frustrating.”

Kaman’s frontcourt mate, forward Tim Thomas, sat because of a strained left groin.

“It hasn’t really felt that great, but I can’t keep sitting out,” said Kaman, stretching on a medicine ball before the game.

The Clippers (19-38) have lost five in a row. They are barreling toward their first 50-loss season in five years, but their 16th in 24 seasons since relocating from San Diego to Los Angeles.

Corey Maggette had a team-high 22 points, but the Clippers shot a lowly 34.8%.

“They’re all very solid teams,” guard Quinton Ross said of the recent opponents. “The Lakers have been playing really well since the All-Star break. I would probably give them the nod. But Detroit has so much experience and Boston has so many good players.”

Always the bridesmaid. Never the bride.