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CLIPPERS NOTEBOOK : BARKLEY'S DOWN ON CLIPPERS.

Byline: Gary Washburn Daily News Staff Writer

As the playoffs near the Clippers are getting some advice on their first-round matchup with Utah.

``They're going to have a tough time,'' said Rockets forward Charles Barkley. ``Utah is on a mission. They have a rough road to hoe.''

The Rockets were apparently playing well until traveling to Salt Lake City and coming back with a 104-83 loss last Friday.

``The Clippers play hard, but the Western Conference is the best it's been since I've been here,'' Barkley said. ``They're going to have the play their butts off.''

In Bill Fitch's return to Houston on Tuesday, he couldn't help grading the Rockets. Houston is an aging club that turned on cruise control in their 123-119 victory. The Clippers scored 40 points in the fourth quarter.

``I don't coach the Rockets anymore, but I would have them do some more,'' Fitch said. ``They're legs got a little tired in the fourth quarter. They're not out of shape, but you want to have those playoff legs.''

It caused this response from Barkley: ``Tell him not to worry about this (bleeping) team; worry about his own scabs.''

Staying afloat: The Clippers have two more important games before their playoff series with Utah.

The Lakers come to the Sports Arena on Friday (a sellout), with Shaquille O'Neal. The Lakers are a half-game back of Seattle and Houston for the No. 2 seed. The Clippers, who vowed not to play down for the final games, are preparing.

``We know we have to keep that momentum,'' forward Rodney Rogers said. ``Teams are playing us for something and we're playing for something. We can't go to (the) playoffs not playing well. We just don't want to get there.''

The Clippers end the season at Seattle, where they haven't won in 14 tries.
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Title Annotation:SPORTS
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Apr 17, 1997
Words:303
Previous Article:LAKERS VS. SACRAMENTO.
Next Article:DODGERS NOTEBOOK : BUTLER ISN'T JUST HELPING, HE'S HOT.


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