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Olowokandi Struggling

November 25, 1999|LONNIE WHITE

Second-year center Michael Olowokandi's inconsistency continues to baffle the Clippers.

Olowokandi has struggled to adjust to the league's new defensive rules in the paint. He pushes when he should let up and jumps when he should stay on the ground. Mental errors have helped put him in early foul trouble in four of the last five games, and he has made only 12 of 29 shots from the field since a 14-point, 11-rebound effort against Vancouver on Nov. 14.

"You just can't let it get you down," said Olowokandi, who is averaging eight points and 6.1 rebounds over the last five games. "When you wake up in the morning, it's another game plan."

Olowokandi says he is excited about the team's recent success, two wins in a row and three of the last four games, but is frustrated with his play.

"It's a team game . . . but for me personally, I want to be out there trying to contribute to the team," Olowokandi said Wednesday.

Assistant Jim Todd, who helped develop Indiana Pacer center Rik Smits during his college days at Marist, works with Olowokandi daily and is not down on the team's young center. Todd points out Olowokandi has improved his free-throw shooting, from 48.3% last season to 68.8.% this season.

"We're trying to build confidence out there," Todd said. "He has to be comfortable with what he's doing out there. It's a lot different doing it in practice than doing it in games. Going against guys his size going full tilt in a game is a little bit different.

"Hard work and repetition is the only way it's going to get done. He has to now put it to music come game time."


Scratch power forward Maurice Taylor for Friday's game at Seattle, but he's hoping a fitted orthopedic pad will help him be ready for Saturday's game against Portland at Staples Center.

"I have to see if the swelling goes down," said Taylor, who has been out five games because of a sprained left foot. "The pain has subsided, but there is still some swelling."

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