Retooled, but still adrift

Dillman is a Times staff writer.

Marcus Camby merely voiced what everyone else around the league was thinking.

How in the heck is this going to work?

“Tell me about it,” he said, laughing.

Life in the Clippers’ mad laboratory of a season continued -- along with another defeat, this one by a 112-95 score to the Nets on Saturday night despite a season-high 30 points from Baron Davis -- and more uncertainty loomed.

The Clippers now have three high-profile big men: Chris Kaman, Camby and the newly acquired Zach Randolph. The math, by any measure, does not make much sense.


This latest experiment could be the answer to what ails this franchise. Or it may be another in a long line of Clippers fiascoes in a miserable two-win season.

“It remains to be seen,” said Camby, who had 18 points and 13 rebounds. “Somebody’s going to be the odd man out.”

When the Clippers traded for the 6-9 power forward Randolph in a four-player deal with the Knicks on Friday, it was assumed in some quarters that another domino would then fall, perhaps along the lines of Kaman going to Charlotte or Chicago.

But Clippers Coach Mike Dunleavy, also the team’s general manager, said that was it for now in terms of deal-making. And word has gone out around the league that the Clippers are going to give this quixotic trial a shot.

Camby was willing to go along with the program. He could have said he didn’t come to the Clippers to accept diminished minutes, but that’s not his style.

“I’ll be the team player,” Camby said. “You know, I just want to win. If he comes in and starts, I don’t mind coming off the bench.

“I know firsthand about the business of the NBA . . . so I was definitely surprised.”

Randolph was unconcerned about the mechanics of it all.

“Whatever. Both of them big guys are going to be great,” he said. “They’ve got talent. . . . It’s going to be good.”

Good has been an elusive quality for the Clippers after 13 games. The Nets’ five starters (led by Yi Jianlian and his 27 points) were all in double figures, just the way the Philadelphia 76ers were against the Clippers on Friday.

New Jersey (6-6) shot 58% from three-point range, and the Clippers were five for 21 (24%) from that distance, and made only one in the first half.

Al Thornton scored 20 points and Kaman had 14.

“We let them do what they wanted,” Kaman said. “We didn’t play the right defense. It’s like if you know a guy wants to go right, we let him go right, continuously.”

He dismissed the suggestion that the Clippers were hurt by being short-handed since they couldn’t use Randolph or Mardy Collins yet.

“Who cares? Missing a couple of guys is a part of a game,” Kaman said. “That isn’t the reason for the loss. We can beat this team with the team we had on the floor. We just didn’t play the right way.”

Davis’ 30-point, 10-assist performance went for naught. But he found the right balance after being displeased with his game at Philadelphia.

“I’m a capable scorer at times when I’m in a nice flow,” he said. “I thought last night against Philly I wasn’t as aggressive as I should be. Each and every game I’m going to have to start being more aggressive.”