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Dunleavy Milestone Right on Q

Richardson has career bests of 32 points and 16 rebounds as the Clippers win their home opener, 115-103, giving the coach his 400th victory.

November 12, 2003|Jerry Crowe | Times Staff Writer

It was an annual event, the Clippers losing their home opener.

They hadn't won one since 1995, seven losses and five coaches ago, and starting off on the wrong foot had become something of a Clipper tradition.

But with Quentin Richardson leading the way, they ended the streak Tuesday night with a 115-103 win over the Atlanta Hawks in front of 16,562 at Staples Center, delivering to Mike Dunleavy his 400th NBA coaching victory.

Richardson, who has increased his point total in each game since scoring 11 on opening night, posted career highs of 32 points and 16 rebounds in helping the Clippers reach .500 for the first time in two seasons.

"I'm just happy being able to be out there and producing and helping my team win," Richardson said. "That's the important thing, that we win. All of this individual stuff doesn't matter if we don't win the game."

Dunleavy, 2-2 in his first season with the Clippers and 400-392 overall, is the 30th NBA coach with at least 400 victories.

He is the sixth active coach to reach the milestone, joining Don Nelson of Dallas, Larry Brown of Detroit, Jerry Sloan of Utah Jazz, Phil Jackson of the Lakers and Rick Adelman of Sacramento.

He joined the list in a game the Clippers were outshot, 54% to 46%, but took 23 offensive rebounds, eight by Richardson.

"Effort-wise, we did some good things," Dunleavy said of the Clippers, who produced 27 second-chance points while giving up only eight and outscored the Hawks in the paint, 62-44. "Obviously, the offensive boards carried us. ... That and the [20] turnovers we created were things that really helped us out. It got us into the open court and got us some easy scores."

Corey Maggette scored 21 points and Chris Wilcox, again starting in place of injured forward Elton Brand, scored a career-high 19 for the Clippers.

Shareef Abdur-Rahim scored 23 points, Dion Glover 22 and Stephen Jackson 17 for the Hawks, who were outrebounded, 45-30.

Though officially the Clippers had played a "home" game against the Seattle SuperSonics last month at Saitama, Japan, they were the last NBA team to play a game on its actual home court this season.

"You're trying to establish your identity," Dunleavy said of his young team before the game, "so first off you want to make sure that your building is known around the league as a tough place to come play.

"This building already is known that way, but it's not for us."

The Hawks, meanwhile, were playing the fourth game of a five-game West Coast trip, forced out of Philips Arena because of an ice show.

They were scheduled to play nine of their first 13 games away from home, a daunting prospect for a team that was 9-32 outside of Atlanta last season. They were 0-4 on the road before Sunday's 91-81 victory at Seattle.

"They had a big win in Seattle; they played very well there," Dunleavy said before the game. "They've got some players. ...

"So, we've got to do a good job defensively, we've got to control the glass and we've got to try to get ourselves into the open court."

Except for the good defense, that's what they did in the first half, when the Hawks made 63.6% of their shots ... and trailed at halftime, 58-53.

The Clippers ended the first quarter with a 14-2 run, capped by a buzzer-beating 40-foot three-point basket by Marko Jaric, to erase a 30-19 deficit.

They ended the half with a 15-4 run after the Hawks, who at one point had made more than 72% of their shots, suddenly went cold after taking a 49-43 lead.

The Clippers outscored the Hawks, 10-0, in the last 2 1/2 minutes.

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