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CLIPPERS

Three Spots in Lineup Undecided

October 22, 2000|LONNIE WHITE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

With only two exhibition games remaining before the start of the regular season, Clipper Coach Alvin Gentry has not settled on a starting lineup.

The only players assured of a spot are small forward Lamar Odom and center Michael Olowokandi, who have sat out the last three exhibition games because of injuries. Brian Skinner, who is starting to shed rust caused from missing most of last season because of an ankle injury, is the likely starter at power forward.

At shooting guard, Gentry feels that he can't lose with either Tyrone Nesby or Corey Maggette because both will play a lot. But rookies Darius Miles and Quentin Richardson have both played so well during the exhibition season, there may be times when one of them starts at this position.

Since the start of training camp, Jeff McInnis has held down the spot as the team's No. 1 point guard. Although he has not officially given McInnis the starting nod, Gentry has not wavered in his support despite McInnis' inability to knock down shots and impressive recent efforts from Earl Boykins and Keyon Dooling.

"Considering that this is a whole new system and with that comes more pressure on the point guard, I think our guys have done a pretty good job," Gentry said. "Not only does he have to learn his spot, but he has to learn four other spots as well."

That's one reason why Gentry is not bothered that McInnis has made only nine of 28 field goals in six exhibition games.

"I think Jeff has done a great job pressuring the ball defensively and having energy. Because he hasn't made shots, everyone thinks he hasn't played well. . . . I like his energy level and what he is trying to do."

Gentry said he still plans to use Odom at point this season but not too much. The main reason why he does is to get Odom on the floor at the same time with at least two of the team's quartet of versatile swingmen in Miles, Maggette, Nesby and Richardson.

"I don't think we will get a steady diet of that," Gentry said. "It will be a change that we can throw out there. It will be used to change matchups and change how a game is going. I don't think we are anticipating using Lamar as our starting point guard."

*

After an easy victory over Indiana on Friday, the Clippers will play the Pacers again today when they complete a three-game trip at Evansville, Ind.

Playing the Pacers is somewhat of a different experience for the Clippers because they also have a young team, featuring three players who skipped college to enter the NBA straight out of high school.

Gentry said although the Pacers are the defending Eastern Conference champions, they are a different team because of how much they will count on Al Harrington, Jonathan Bender and Jermaine O'Neal, who have to step up now that Mark Jackson, Dale Davis and Rik Smits are no longer with the team.

Notes

If the Clippers defeat Indiana today, they will improve to 5-2 and match a franchise record for exhibition victories. Last season, they finished 5-3 and then went 15-67 over the regular season.

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