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SPORTS EXTRA / NBA 2000-01 PREVIEW | CLIPPER FACTS
: NOTES

McInnis Ascends at the Point

October 30, 2000|LONNIE WHITE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Point guard Jeff McInnis sat in front of his locker following the Clippers' open scrimmage on Saturday, looked around the team's Staples Center dressing room and nodded his head like an old crafty veteran.

And why not? Although he's only 26, McInnis has spent the last three years chasing his dream of being a starting point guard in the NBA. He's had opportunities with Denver and Washington before signing with the Clippers late last season but most of his pro experience has come from playing in the Continental Basketball Assn.

But after struggling to find a home since leaving North Carolina before his senior season in 1996, McInnis is about to start the regular season as the Clippers' No. 1 floor leader.

"I feel like this is my team and I am going to run it," said McInnis, who led the league in assists per turnovers ratio during the exhibition season. In eight games, McInnis had 29 assists with only five turnovers.

The knock against McInnis has been his shooting. But after making only 30% of his field goals to start the preseason, McInnis finished strong after having a heart-to-heart talk with Coach Alvin Gentry.

"I started out kind of shaky. I was thinking too much on the court," McInnis said. "Coach Gentry explained how he wanted the game played and I listened to what he said. I was not being offensive minded at all. I was really out of it."

*

After not getting much accomplished in Saturday's open scrimmage and then taking off Sunday, the Clippers will return to practice today before leaving for Salt Lake City.

The Clippers open the regular season against Utah on Tuesday and Gentry is not worried about getting caught off guard by the Jazz.

"Everyone knows what Utah is going to run, that is not going to be a mystery," Gentry said. "You know what Utah is going to run for the last 12 years now. We'll be prepared from that standpoint . . . The whole thing with them is that they execute you to death."

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