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Rodman, Shaq Roll Over Clips

The winless Los Angeles Clippers lost again on Tuesday night no great surprise.

However, they felt like winners afterward.

Shaquille O'Neal had 31 points and 12 rebounds, and Dennis Rodman had a season-high 20 rebounds as the Los Angeles Lakers held off the Clippers 103-99 to extend the Clippers' losing streak to 16 games one shy of the league standard at the start of a season.

"I think we played our best game," said Lorenzen Wright, who had 11 points and 10 rebounds before fouling out with 5:46 left. "If we continue to play like this every night, there's no way we're going to continue to lose."

The Clippers trailed by as many as 17 points in the third quarter before rallying within three points with a little less than a minute remaining. But that was as close as they would get.

"We looked like we were a team tonight," said Maurice Taylor, who scored 14 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter. "I thought we really jelled. We were aggressive, especially on defense."

The Clippers, who also lost 16 games at the beginning of the 1994-95 season, can tie the record set by the Miami Heat in 1988-89 in another game against the Lakers on Wednesday night at the Forum.

Their chances of winning can't be considered very good. The Lakers (14-6) are unbeaten in eight games since Del Harris was fired as coach two weeks ago, and 7-0 with Kurt Rambis as head coach and Rodman as one of his players.

Should the Lakers win, the Clippers could break Miami's record Thursday night at home against the Sacramento Kings in their third game in as many nights.

Kobe Bryant scored 11 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter, and Eddie Jones also scored 16 for the Lakers including four straight in the final minute after the Clippers cut their lead to 98-95.

O'Neal had 14 points in the final period before fouling out with 54.3 seconds left.

Rookie Tyrone Nesby and Darrick Martin added 16 points each for the Clippers.

"They've got to be happy with what happened, except for missing some free throws," Rambis said. "If they could have made some free throws, they could have stolen the game from us.

"I will take the blame; I didn't get the team ready to play. That's my job. I didn't get them ready to go from the beginning. I didn't get them focused and concentrating.

"(The players) did enough in the fourth quarter."

The Clippers outscored the Lakers 7-2 to start the second half and draw within two points. But the Lakers then went on a 21-6 run for a 70-53 lead, largest of the game.

The Clippers then began chipping away, and the Lakers didn't actually clinch the win until Derek Harper's foul shot with 1.7 seconds left completed the scoring.

"It wasn't pretty, but we did some key things down the stretch and got the win," O'Neal said. "I'm happy about our last eight games (all wins), I wasn't happy with howe played tonight. I think it was one of those games where we were just trying too hard, thinking too much."

The Lakers went ahead to stay with a 13-4 spurt for a 20-15 lead late in the first quarter. The Clippers were just 1-of-8 from the foul line at that stage.

The Lakers led by as many as 10 points in the second quarter before settling for a 47-40 halftime lead. The Clippers were just 4-of-15 from the foul line in the opening 24 minutes, but 19-of-24 in the second half.

"I thought the guys laid it on the line," Clippers coach Chris Ford said. "We didn't give in. We kept on battling through the tough times, and yet it wasn't good enough.

"This was a man's game out there tonight, it was a very physical game at both ends of the court."

Notes: The game was played before a crowd of 13,380 at the Los Angeles Sports Arena. ... The Baltimore Orioles own the worst start ever among major sports teams, starting the 1988 baseball season with 21 losses. Tampa Bay had the worst-ever NFL start, going 0-14 in 1976. In the NHL, the 1943-44 New York Rangers lost their first 11 games and had an 0-14-1 record before finally winning a game. ... The Clippers have lost 19 straight games twice in their history. ... The Lakers have won eight consecutive games against the Clippers, three this season. ... Clippers center Michael Olowokandi, the first pick in last summer's NBA draft, missed his fifth straight game due to a sprained left ankle. He is expected to come off the injured list and play Wednesday night. ... Rodman had 10 rebounds in the third quarter, the most by a Laker in one period this season.

©1999 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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