LOS ANGELES - Al Harrington took exception to the perception that he takes losing a little too lightly, especially after he called a recent defeat to the Cavaliers "a feel-good loss." Mike D'Antoni even came to his defense, citing Harrington's unquestionable effort.
But it might have been Harrington's exuberance that cost the Knicks a desperately-needed win and, instead, led to a sixth straight loss as the team goes into the all-star break following Wednesday's 128-124 overtime loss to the Clippers at Staples Center.
Rookie Eric Gordon, whom the Knicks passed over in last year's draft to select Danilo Gallinari, had 30 points for the Clippers, including a clutch three-point play on a reverse layup with 38.3 seconds left to make it a 123-119 lead. The Knicks managed to cut it to 125-124 after a three-pointer by Nate Robinson with five seconds left, but former Knick Fred Jones hit two free throws with 3.9 seconds to seal the game.
After Harrington scored on a big putback dunk with 25 seconds left to give the Knicks a 110-107 lead, he did a chin-up on the rim and slapped the backboard with two hands. The excessive celebration resulted in a technical foul and Steve Novak hit the free throw to make it a two-point game. Zach Randolph then scored on a jump hook over David Lee on the ensuing possession to tie it at 110 with 11.2 seconds left in regulation.
Robinson missed on a runner and Harrington couldn't get off a clean putback before the buzzer to force overtime.
With Chris Duhon out with a sprained left ankle, the Knicks looked to Robinson to fill a very important role in running the offense. Though Robinson is not considered a "traditional" floor general-type point guard that is required to run D'Antoni's spread offense, the coach didn't want Robinson to try to be something he is not.
"I think he has to be Nate Robinson and a lot of nights that's really good," D'Antoni said. "It's a little bit different but he can get the job done."
Robinson, who played 51:33, fell one rebound shy of a triple-double with 33 points and a career-high 15 assists along with nine rebounds and five steals for the Knicks (21-31).
Davis had 13 points and 20 assists, including a big three-pointer with 7.5 seconds left in overtime. Steve Novak's red-hot shooting (6 of 8 from downtown, 20 points) was also a major factor for the Clippers.
Wilson Chandler had 27 points and David Lee had his usual double-double with 17 points and 12 rebounds.
Duhon said he will get an MRI "as soon as I get off the plane" Thursday when the Knicks return to New York on the team charter.
Duhon originally injured the ankle in the third quarter of Sunday's 109-108 loss in Portland. The timing is somewhat fortunate because this weekend's all-star break allows Duhon five days of rest and rehabilitation before the team's next game, Tuesday against the San Antonio Spurs at the Garden. For that, Duhon remains cautiously optimistic.
"I want to know what's wrong with it," Duhon said, "but I'm shooting to play on Tuesday."
The Knicks were also without Quentin Richardson, who missed his second straight game with a chest bruise. The Knicks were even more shorthanded after the first quarter when Tim Thomas pulled out of the game with a groin strain, which also bothered him in Tuesday's loss to the Golden state Warriors.
The Clippers were also injury-depleted, with Marcus Camby sitting out the game with a migraine and Chris Kaman out with a strained left arch. Former Knick Mardy Collins also was out with a strained left calf.
With Duhon out, Gallinari's two-game stint as a starter ended as D'Antoni went back to Jared Jeffries, who had 16 points and 10 rebounds in one of his best statistical games as a Knick.
Gallinari's role remained very limited even after he became a starter and D'Antoni indicated, "it's time" for the rookie's presence to expand. He had four points and four rebounds in 16:44.
Gordon, who was selected by the Clippers right after Gallinari with the seventh overall pick, has emerged as one of the best rookies in the NBA. D'Antoni admitted that Gordon, the former Indiana standout was "high on our list."
It is unquestionably a decision that will be second-guessed, at least until Gallinari starts to show more of his potential.
Notes & Quotes: Clippers general manager/coach Mike Dunleavy said the Cuttino Mobley situation "shocked me" when it was revealed that he had a severe heart condition that forced him to retire. Mobley had played in 11 games for Dunleavy and the Clippers before the trade and averaged 31 minutes a night. The Knicks could have rejected the trade, but waived the physical, which Dunleavy said, "tells you what kind of believer they are in 2010." Donnie Walsh made the trade to move Zach Randolph's $17.3 million off the salary cap in 2010-11 . . . The 144 points the Knicks allowed on Tuesday to the Warriors was the most points against them in a regulation game since Dec. 8, 1979, when they lost, 145-129 to the Kansas City Kings. It also represented the most points in a regulation game this season in the NBA . . . Former Clippers GM Elgin Baylor filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court against the team, the NBA and Clippers owner Donald Sterling alleging employment discrimination. According to the lawsuit, Baylor maintains he was "discriminated against and unceremoniously released" Oct. 7 as the team's vice president of basketball operations "on account of his age and race." Baylor, a Hall of Fame player, spent 22 years as an executive with the Clippers.