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Pro Basketball | CLIPPER REPORT

Players Just Say No to 0-4 Start

November 06, 2001|Elliott Teaford

Midway through the fourth quarter Monday, Shareef Abdur-Rahim of the Atlanta Hawks drove toward the basket and hoisted a shot from point-blank range. Elton Brand leaped to swat it away.

Atlanta's Dion Glover took possession and tried a quick shot. Brand leaped to block it, too, forcing a jump ball and igniting a standing ovation.

Brand then shook his head as if to say, "Uh-uh, not tonight."

The Clippers simply would not be denied in winning their first game of the season, a comprehensive 109-86 victory over the overmatched Hawks before an announced crowd of 13,722 at Staples Center.

Despite playing without Lamar Odom, who was suspended earlier in the day by the NBA for violating the league's anti-drug policy, the Clippers played their best basketball of the season.

Corey Maggette, who replaced Odom at small forward, had 16 points--including 11 in the pivotal first quarter. Maggette, who had been itching for more playing time, made four of five shots and two of two free throws in leading the Clippers (1-3) to a 28-22 lead.

"Corey really gave us a spark," Clipper Coach Alvin Gentry said. "It was a much-needed win for us. I thought we played extremely well as a team. I thought everybody played well."

Unlike Saturday, when they squandered a 14-point first-half lead en route to a 110-108 overtime loss to the Golden State Warriors, the Clippers did not waver from their task Monday.

They built a 55-45 halftime lead and extended it to 78-60 by the end of three quarters. As if to underscore their dominance, the Clippers began the fourth quarter with a dunking and shooting exhibition.

Quentin Richardson's dunk off Keyon Dooling's miss and Darius Miles' jam off a pass from Jeff McInnis on a fast break were the best of the best. Richardson had 20 points for the Clippers, a game after scoring a career-best 26. Miles had 10, Brand 13 and Dooling 17.

Soon enough the lead grew to 105-80.

"We didn't know," Maggette said when asked about Odom's suspension. "No one knew. All of a sudden, it was on ESPN. It hurts the team when stuff like that happens. We had to be mature and put it behind us."


Gentry was fined $7,500 by the NBA for failing to leave the court in a timely fashion and for attempting to confront an official after the Clippers' loss Saturday against the Warriors.

Gentry was furious at referee Ronnie Nunn, whose call against Brand put Golden State's Larry Hughes on the line for two free throws with 2.1 seconds left in overtime.

Hughes sank both, Brand missed a fallaway jumper at the buzzer at the other end of the court and the Clippers lost their third in a row to start the season. Gentry refused to comment about the call at game's end, and didn't say much Monday.

Asked if it was his first fine as an NBA coach, he said, "Yeah." Asked if thought he deserved a fine, he said, "No. And I'll leave it at that."

Monday was Gentry's birthday. Asked how old he was, he joked, "In NBA years, I'm about 112." He's really 47.


The Clippers also were without backup center Sean Rooks, whose left hip strain sidelined him. With Rooks out, Obinna Ekezie played for the first time this season. Reserve guard Earl Boykins also made his first appearance....Atlanta's Jason Terry strained his left hamstring six minutes into the game and did not return.

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