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Teammates Bemoan Absence of Odom

Pro Basketball | CLIPPER REPORT

December 31, 2001|Elliott Teaford

The Clippers refused Sunday to make excuses for their inability Saturday to finish off the Boston Celtics. Still, they would have liked a healthy Lamar Odom on the floor to help make plays late in what turned out to be a 105-103 overtime loss.

"Lamar is such a threat," teammate Elton Brand said. "He sees the court so well. We definitely miss Lamar. [Saturday] was one of those games when he might have made a difference."

Odom was sidelined for a second game because of a sprained right wrist. He did not practice Sunday and his status for Tuesday against the Portland Trail Blazers is uncertain.

Another set of X-rays is expected to be taken this week of Odom's wrist, injured when he fell Dec. 16 against the Detroit Pistons. X-rays taken Friday were negative.

Darius Miles filled in for Odom against the Celtics and Thursday against the Seattle SuperSonics. Against Boston, Miles had an Odom-like game, scoring 15 points, taking eight rebounds and adding eight assists in 51 minutes.

The Clippers missed Odom badly.

"He's our best all-around player," Coach Alvin Gentry said. "We can't use [Odom's absence] as an excuse. We've won without him before, but it's difficult for us because it screws up our rotation."

Instead of bringing Miles off the bench (usually with guard Quentin Richardson) late in the first quarter, Gentry has had to start him. Miles said Saturday he would rather be a reserve.

The Clippers' bench production, fourth-best in the NBA with an average of 33.3 points before Saturday's game, slipped against the Celtics. Richardson had 18 points and Eric Piatkowski three, but that was it from the reserves.

"We've got 'Pike' back," Gentry said, referring to Piatkowski, sidelined by a strained right hip flexor for 11 of 12 games. "Maybe that will make a difference. We've had some nagging injuries we didn't have last season."

*

Point guard Jeff McInnis played 52 minutes Saturday, scoring 23 points and adding seven assists. Backup Earl Boykins was scoreless in two minutes and Eldridge Recasner did not play.

"Jeff played way too many minutes," Gentry said. "I'll use Earl more and play Eldridge some against Portland. Overall, I think Jeff has led the NBA in minutes the last eight games. We've got to find a situation where we can get him some rest."

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