Reward doesn’t lead to a victory
Some of the Clippers played bounty hunter in the dressing room on Wednesday night, a few hours before the Portland Trail Blazers defeated the Clippers, 87-75, at Staples Center.
Pregame chatter landed, briefly, on the Sacramento Kings’ Kevin Martin, who collected $1,000 from teammate Mikki Moore for a two-handed dunk over 7-footer Greg Oden of the Trail Blazers on Monday in Sacramento.
The Clippers’ Ricky Davis, taking a break from his pre-game dinner, came up with another number. Why be predictable and imitate someone else?
Davis threw it down: $500 for dunking on Oden.
“I’ll leave it up to you all three,” he said.
That caught the attention of rookies Eric Gordon and DeAndre Jordan and second-year man Al Thornton.
Gordon, in particular, since he was about to play his high school friend and rival Oden for the first time as a pro.
Just to make sure . . . the challenge, and potential reward, was issued to only those three players?
“Yeah, that’s about the only three people that can dunk on him tonight,” Davis said. “And [Chris] Kaman . . . “
Jordan shot back, as he was heading out the door, saying: “Five K?”
Said Davis, laughing: “Get off the bus, rook,”
The bus ride ended up a bit rocky for the rookies, a difficult 48 hours in consecutive losses.
Clippers Coach Mike Dunleavy opted to start rookies Gordon and Mike Taylor in the backcourt after a tough go of it on Tuesday night. They combined for 14 points on Wednesday.
“His performance has been the spectacular kind, both good and bad,” Dunleavy said of Taylor.
“He’s got to find that other gear in the sense he puts on great pressure, plays really hard, makes some terrific plays, shots.
“Then there’s times he’s learning the position where he gets a little careless.”
Earlier, Dunleavy spoke about his rationale behind starting the rookies. “After last night, they probably didn’t feel great about themselves: ‘You’re going to start me. You must still like me.’ ”
The Clippers are 4-3 in the exhibition season with one game remaining.
Thornton led with 16 points and Cuttino Mobley, who sat out against the Suns, had 12. Dunleavy thought there was a chance that injured veteran Tim Thomas (strained groin) might play in the final preseason game against Denver on Friday.
He also said he expected to make a roster cut after the game, which would mean Jelani McCoy’s exit.
As for the bounty man, Davis, he rested, watched . . . and kept his money.
“I’m good,” he said, smiling. “Nobody got it. I should have bet it the other way around. If he dunked on somebody else, I would have won.”
Portland Coach Nate McMillan said beforehand that he planned on playing Oden about 25 to 30 minutes and stayed in that range, keeping him at almost 29.
After the game, Oden needed four stitches for a cut over his right eye.
McMillan spoke about the NBA learning curve for Oden, who scored 12 and had 13 rebounds.
“The important thing for guys coming into the league, the speed of the game,” McMillan said.
“They’ve never played against the speed of the athletes, the size and the ability. . . . Well, you’re going to see a 7-footer that’s just as big, just as physical every night.”
That would be the Clippers’ Kaman, who was suitably impressed by Oden. “He’s a big boy,” Kaman said. " . . . I think he had all dunks tonight and one left-handed jumper. Once he figures it all out defensively, I think he’s going to be a monster.”