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CLIPPERS REPORT

Rookies Knock Down the Wall

January 19, 2001|LONNIE WHITE

One of the first things rookies Darius Miles, Quentin Richardson and Keyon Dooling were warned about after they were drafted last summer was to watch out for the "The Wall".

Around the NBA, it's common knowledge that the first season is always the hardest because of the league's grueling 82-game schedule.

But after 41 games, Miles, Richardson and Dooling headed into Thursday night's game against Boston still going strong.

"Darius and I talked about that the other day and we joked about how we've been able to keep playing hard," Richardson said. "We don't think we're going to hit the wall."

Among rookies, Miles ranks second in rebounds per game (6.3) and blocked shots (1.53) and third in scoring (8.7). Richardson is fourth in scoring (8.7) and fifth in rebounds (3.7). Dooling is third in assists (2.3).

Because he has been able to spread playing time around, Coach Alvin Gentry said his rookies have not shown any signs of slowing down.

"I don't think [they've hit the wall] because you can see the energy Darius is still playing with," Gentry said. "Quentin is starting to get better and before Keyon went down with his injury, he was playing as well as he could possibly play. I don't see hitting the wall as a factor."

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For much of the first two months of the season, the Clippers ranked first or second in rebounding among the league's 29 teams. But after inserting Miles into the starting lineup at power forward, the Clippers have been getting pounded on the boards.

"Darius has been averaging nearly 10 rebounds per game over the last 10 games, so he's not [the reason why the Clippers have dropped to fifth in team rebounding]," Gentry said. "We still can't figure out why we can't rebound the ball as much.

"But if you look at the stats, we've been getting outrebounded by three over our last 10 games. . . . When you look at tape, we seem to be pursuing the ball but we just seem to can't come up with it. I would like to see our guards rebound more, especially Quentin Richardson."

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