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Parks May Start at Center

February 18, 2003|Elliott Teaford | Times Staff Writer

With little to lose at this point, Coach Alvin Gentry said Monday he was considering starting Cherokee Parks at center Wednesday against the Milwaukee Bucks.

Parks has spent most of the season on the injured list while the team kept others on its active list. Gentry is about out of options and believes Parks can help the Clippers win.

"He has a good feel for the game," Gentry said of Parks, who had 14 points in 32 minutes -- both season highs -- during the Clippers' loss Saturday to the Boston Celtics. "I feel he has played well. I think he's got a thorough understanding of what we're trying to do. I like him as a player. I started him when he was here before [two seasons ago]. He's a veteran guy. He's all about winning."

The original plan in signing Parks as a free agent last summer was to have him tutor rookies Melvin Ely and Chris Wilcox, filling in if injuries hit the Clippers.

When injuries did hit the team, Parks stayed on the injured list and has played only nine of 52 games. Now, he could start against the Bucks, replacing Sean Rooks, who had been replacing Michael Olowokandi.

"It's been a real trying year, it really has," Gentry said, referring to injuries that have sidelined several starters. Olowokandi had arthroscopic knee surgery Feb. 3. Gentry also was speaking of the team's 18-34 record and last-place standing in the Pacific Division.

"This season has taken a bigger toll on me than anything in my professional career, period," he added. "We have played good basketball, but we can't finish games. As a coach, it wears on you."

The Clippers have lost 17 games in which they have led in the fourth quarter, and that includes Saturday's defeat, , when they were outscored, 20-6, after taking a 78-72 lead with 5 1/2 minutes to play.


Gentry also indicated he would play backup guard Marko Jaric more in the season's final 30 games. He didn't rule out cutting back on starter Andre Miller's minutes, particularly when games are on the line.

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