Clippers' quick start puts Wizards away, extends skid to five

Washington no match for Los Angeles' defense, hustle in 96-75 defeat

March 14, 2002|By Milton Kent | Milton Kent,SUN STAFF

LOS ANGELES - At least the Washington Wizards didn't wait until the end of last night's game with the Los Angeles Clippers to fold.

The Wizards fell under the weight of a 13-4 first-quarter run that put them in a 16-point hole from which they could never climb out of, and they started a critical six-game West Coast trip with a 96-75 loss, their fifth straight and their 14th in their past 17 games.

In the previous four losses, the Wizards (29-35) were competitive down to the final few minutes, but last night, against the high-energy Clippers (34-31), Washington fell behind early and never could catch up.

"[The Clippers] were tremendous defensively in the first six minutes," said Wizards coach Doug Collins.

"They knocked us backward and we never recovered. We struggled mightily offensively. We dug ourselves a huge hole and we fought to dig ourselves out of it and we never could, because when you dig that much of a hole, you use so much energy."

In particular, Washington's frontcourt could not solve center Michael Olowokandi and forward Elton Brand, who torched the Wizards inside and pounded the boards.

Olowokandi, the first player chosen in the 1999 draft, had 22 points and 11 rebounds, while Brand, a former NBA co-Rookie of the Year, had 19 points and 15 rebounds to key the Los Angeles attack.

Richard Hamilton had 20 points to lead Washington, while Courtney Alexander chipped in 13 for the Wizards, who have fallen to 10th place in the Eastern Conference playoff chase, 1 1/2 games out of the conference's last berth.

"I hope what our guys are learning more than anything else is the passion and the fire that you have to play with to play this game at a high level," added Collins.

"That's a big jump for our guys. Some of our guys have never done this before. It's going to be a real learning experience to see how our guys respond to it. Our guys just got a taste of what high-level basketball is all about."

Brand, in particular, came out of the chute with a burst, scoring five of Los Angeles' first seven points from point-blank range. His success inside opened the middle for Olowokandi, who scored eight points in a four-minute burst.

Meanwhile, the Wizards, playing their third game in four days in three cities on two coasts, looked lifeless, so much so that Collins lifted the starters en masse two-thirds of the way through the quarter.

The switch paid slight dividends as Popeye Jones, Tyrone Nesby and Tyronn Lue hit baskets in the final minute of the period to trim the Clippers' lead to 28-18 after the first period.

But in the second, it was more of the same, with Washington getting no closer than eight points as Olowokandi took charge, scoring six points in the first four minutes of the quarter and 14 for the half.

Brand's tip-in with 31.6 seconds left in the half gave him 13 points in the period, to go along with eight rebounds, and sent Los Angeles to the dressing room with a 53-38 lead.

FG FT Reb

Washington Min M-A M-A O-T A PF PTS

RHamilton 38 10-21 1-2 1-2 0 2 21

Laettner 15 1-3 2-2 0-2 2 1 4

White 20 1-3 0-0 2-7 0 2 2

Whitney 24 1-3 0-1 0-3 4 3 2

Alexander 32 5-11 3-3 1-3 1 5 13

Haywood 19 1-3 0-0 1-1 1 2 2

Davis 4 0-0 0-0 0-1 0 0 0

Jones 16 3-6 0-0 0-3 1 1 6

Lue 24 5-10 0-0 1-4 5 2 10

Nesby 22 3-6 2-2 1-1 1 0 8

Brown 16 2-6 1-3 2-4 0 6 5

Thomas 10 1-6 0-0 1-2 0 1 2

Totals 240 33-78 9-13 10-33 15 25 75

Percentages: FG .423, FT .692. 3-Point Goals: 0-5, .000 (Whitney 0-1, Lue 0-1, Alexander 0-1, Nesby 0-2). Team Rebounds: 5. Blocked Shots: 7 (Haywood 3, White 2, Alexander, Thomas). Turnovers: 11 (White 2, Nesby 2, Davis, Whitney, Lue, Alexander, Laettner, Brown, Haywood). Steals: 3 (Lue, Laettner, Brown). Technical Fouls: None.

L.A. Clippers Min M-A M-A O-T A PF PTS

Fowlkes 18 0-3 2-2 2-3 0 2 2

Brand 43 7-15 5-6 6-15 5 4 19

Olowokandi 43 10-19 2-4 4-11 0 1 22

McInnis 34 4-13 2-2 0-2 6 2 10

Piatkowski 19 3-3 4-4 0-1 0 2 11

Overton 5 1-3 0-0 0-2 0 0 3

Miles 30 5-8 2-2 0-6 0 1 12

Richardson 29 4-10 3-4 1-4 3 0 11

Boykins 9 2-4 0-0 0-0 1 1 4

Rooks 6 1-2 0-0 0-0 0 1 2

Ekezie 2 0-1 0-1 1-3 0 0 0

Jamison 2 0-1 0-0 1-1 0 0 0

Totals 240 37-82 20-25 15-48 15 14 96

Percentages: FG .451, FT .800. 3-Point Goals: 2-8, .250 (Piatkowski 1-1, Overton 1-2, Richardson 0-2, McInnis 0-3). Team Rebounds: 13. Blocked Shots: 9 (Brand 4, Olowokandi 2, Miles 2, Piatkowski). Turnovers: 10 (Piatkowski 2, McInnis 2, Overton 2, Olowokandi, Miles, Richardson, Jamison). Steals: 6 (Richardson 3, Piatkowski 2, McInnis). Technical Fouls: None.

Washington 18 20 24 13 - 75

L.A. Clippers 28 25 23 20 - 96

A-20,282 (18,964). T-2:14. Officials-Jess Kersey, Mark Wunderlich, Scott Wall.

Next for Wizards

Opponent: Seattle SuperSonics

Site: Key Arena, Seattle

When: Tomorrow, 10 p.m.

TV/Radio: CN8/WTNT (570 AM)

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