LOS ANGELES -- Know this about the Los Angeles Clippers: Going into last night's game the team had a three-game losing streak, with two of those losses coming against the Milwaukee Bucks and the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Safe to say, the Washington Bullets were not going up against an NBA powerhouse.
So what happened last night to a team that was looking to steer in the right direction was inexplicable. The Bullets, in perhaps their most lackluster effort, were beaten by the Clippers, 109-92, before 9,119 at the Los Angeles Sports Arena.
Looking to win back-to-back games for the second time this season, the Bullets (7-17) instead lost for the 11th time in their past 12 games.
"That was disgusting," said Bullets forward Don MacLean. "They didn't play well at all and still beat us by 15. I don't know what happened, but we came out flat and never got it going."
Flat indeed. Some fans screamed for a refund after the final buzzer. As bad as the game was, the Clippers were able to record their fifth-best shooting game of the season (54.0 percent). Six players scored in double figures for the Clippers, with Ron Harper and reserve forward Mark Aguirre each scoring 24. Danny Manning recorded his first career triple double, with 12 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists.
Both MacLean and Kenny Walker scored 19 points for the Bullets, who shot 38.7 percent.
Washington has lost by bigger margins this season, but probably has not performed worse than last night's game against the Clippers (10-13). One could blame the team's recent 10-game losing streak on playing teams such as the Phoenix Suns, the Utah Jazz and the Seattle SuperSonics. But after last night's game, the Bullets can only blame themselves.
"We were awfully flat," coach Wes Unseld said. "I thought we would be ready to play. We may have done too much shopping out here or something."
The Bullets were fortunate to be trailing by only 54-46 after a half in which they shot 41.3 percent. But instead of coming out inspired to cut into the lead, the Bullets watched the Los Angeles backcourt of Harper (14 points in the third quarter) and Mark Jackson combine for 10 points during a 15-8 run that increased the Clippers lead to 69-53 with 7:51 left.
Washington made seven of 25 shots in the third quarter (28 percent), which ended with the Bullets trailing, 83-64. In the fourth quarter the Bullets got as close as 87-72 after a layup with 8:32 left by Walker, whose 19 points were a season high.
But Jackson (eight points, 11 assists) ended the run with a layup, and the Clippers maintained control to end a three-game losing streak.
"It was just a lot of fun tonight," said Jackson, whose team lost by 15 points to the Timberwolves and 13 points to the Bucks. "This is the kind of game that we needed."
For the Bullets to point fingers would require a few more hands. Tom Gugliotta (3-for-14) scored six points in 31 minutes. Rex Chapman (4-for-12) scored 12, but only two during the last three quarters. And Michael Adams made only one of 10 shots in 35 minutes (five points).
"We just didn't come out ready to play," Chapman said. "Maybe we felt that since they were playing bad that we could come in here and get a win. We can't afford to think like that."
Aguirre's 24 points (in 25 minutes) were a season high. Manning's 12 rebounds matched a season high. And center Elmore Spencer looked unstoppable, making six of seven shots for 13 points.
With the way the Bullets lost last night, tonight's effort against Kings in Sacramento will bear close watching.
"We definitely need to win tonight," MacLean said. "We were planning on winning a couple on this trip, and we can still do that.
NOTES: F Larry Stewart returned home yesterday after complaining about soreness in his right foot, which was operated on during the summer and forced him to start the season on the injured list. . . . The Bullets have lost three straight to the Clippers, including two games last season.
Opponent: Sacramento Kings
Site: ARCO Arena, Sacramento, Calif.
Radio: WXZL (103.1 FM), WTEM (570 AM)
Outlook: This is the third game of a four-game road trip for the Bullets, who lost last night, 109-92, to the Los Angeles Clippers. The Bullets, who are 2-10 on the road, started the trip by beating the Minnesota Timberwolves to end their 10-game losing streak. The Kings, who have lost four straight games and 12 of their past 13, haven't played since a 97-91 loss Sunday night to the Orlando Magic. They are last in the Pacific Division. G Mitch Richmond (25.3 ppg) and F Lionel Simmons (17.9 ppg) lead the Kings, who are without point guard Bobby Hurley, hospitalized since a Dec. 12 auto accident. This is the first meeting between the teams this season.