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Jittery Clippers Prevail


PHOENIX — The Clippers kicked off the Alvin Gentry era with a 77-68 exhibition victory over the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday night. But before getting caught up in the final score, it must be noted that the Clippers played inconsistently.

"We won and that's good for our young guys but I'm disappointed in the way we executed and the way we rebounded the basketball," Gentry said. "We have a ton of work to do."

At times, the Clippers looked great before 15,797 at America West Arena. Making passes to the open man. Playing defense with intensity and running the floor with authority.

But then there were stretches when they resembled the Clippers of old. Bad passes and forced shots. Poor rebounding and no defensive help.

"We started out playing like the way we practiced," center Michael Olowokandi said. "We got a big lead and I don't know if we were surprised or what, but then we started relaxing. I think we thought for a moment that we were a lot better than we actually are."

The Clippers held a 28-16 lead at the end of one quarter and the big story was Olowokandi, who was four of four from the field, including three power dunks.

In the first four minutes of the second quarter, the Clippers played even better.With Lamar Odom, who had seven assists in the first 16 minutes, directing the attack, the Clippers took Phoenix out of its offense and finished their fastbreaks with dunks by rookies Quentin Richardson and Darius Miles to take a 38-18 lead.

But then Odom picked up his third foul and the Clippers took a nap. Phoenix had a 18-5 run to finish the quarter and trailed, 43-36, at halftime.

The Suns continued to control play for much of the second half as the Clippers struggled to regain their composure. Somehow, they did, outscoring Phoenix, 22-15, in the fourth quarter after leading 55-53 going into it.

Tyrone Nesby, who didn't play in the first half, led the Clippers with 11 points, while Odom and Miles each had 10.


Richardson and Miles were glad to get their first NBA game behind them.

"Darius and I were talking after the game and it was good for both of us to get some dunks," Richardson said. "It's good to get the first game in. We know there are going to be rough times but we have to stick together and stay positive."


Rookie point guard Keyon Dooling did not play because of a ligament strain in his right big toe and Gentry said he will not play tonight at Portland. The Suns were without Tom Gugliotta (knee), Penny Hardaway (knee) and Tony Delk (heel). . . . The Clippers were outrebounded, 47-39, by the Suns.

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