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CLIPPER HOME OPENER

Easy Victory Is Perfectly Fine

Balanced Clippers improve to 2-0 with a 92-77 rout of the Hawks. Singleton and Wilcox make big contributions off the bench.

November 05, 2005|Jason Reid | Times Staff Writer

This season could become something big for the Clippers, or at least better times than they've known recently.

They're off to a good start, remaining perfect Friday night with a 92-77 rout of the Atlanta Hawks in their first game at Staples Center.

After rallying for a road victory against the Seattle SuperSonics in their season opener, the Clippers played well from the outset and overwhelmed the Hawks, leading by as many as 25 in the third quarter. The Hawks, now 0-2, closed the gap against reserves in the final quarter, but the outcome had already been decided.

Guard Cuttino Mobley scored 19 points to lead five Clippers in double figures. Point guard Sam Cassell had 12 and forward Elton Brand contributed 12 and nine rebounds. Moreover, the Clippers again received a strong bench contribution.

It was exactly what Coach Mike Dunleavy wanted.

"I told the guys before the game that a road win in Seattle means nothing if you drop a home game right after it, so we had to come out and take care of business," Dunleavy said. "Again, I thought we had some good efforts, and some real good efforts from our bench, particularly in the first half."

Rookie forward James Singleton had an impressive encore performance to a 14-point, 10-rebound outing against Seattle. He had 13 points and 13 rebounds -- seven on the offensive end -- against the Hawks.

"Singleton was great throughout the whole game off the bench," Dunleavy said. "He's just an effort guy."

And then there was forward-center Chris Wilcox, who Dunleavy said would be a key to the Clippers' playoff hopes. Wilcox had 14 points, missing only one of his eight attempts from the field.

"That's my job," Wilcox said. "We all have roles on the team, and my role is to come off the bench, execute some plays and give the team a lift. I just try to give us a little excitement, and the guys can roll off of that."

Wilcox was at his best in the second quarter, making his five shots as the Clippers took a 56-40 lead into halftime. He displayed the high energy Dunleavy said he expects on a consistent basis this season, powering the Clippers with four baskets on offensive rebounds.

"We understand what we have to do," Cassell said. "Mike gives us a great game plan. He relays it to me first, and my job is to relay it to the team the easiest way I can. We're executing Mike's plan, and you can see it in what we do. We're making things happen."

On the injury front, however, things weren't as upbeat Friday for the Clippers.

Forward Corey Maggette has sat out the first two games because of a strained left hamstring, backup point guard Shaun Livingston is sidelined indefinitely because of back problems and reserve forward Walter McCarty, listed as day-to-day because of a cut right thumb, said he didn't know how much longer he would be inactive.

"Injuries are going to be a part of every season," Dunleavy said. "It's a great opportunity for some of our young guys, who have had the opportunity all through preseason, for the most part, to get good minutes."

And the veterans must continue to do more in the meantime.

"I'm used to playing without other key players," Mobley said. "Sometimes it's like that in the NBA, and you just have to go out there with who you have right now.

"When I'm on the court, I'll do whatever it takes, I'll play wherever they need me, because we have to pick it up and be more aggressive without Corey."

Of course, the Clippers would rather be at full strength as soon as possible.

"Most definitely, because it's not as if we don't need those guys," Brand said. "We definitely do need them. They add a lot and everybody knows that."

*

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

Rated PG

Sam Cassell will become the fifth Clipper point guard to receive the bulk of minutes since the 1999-2000 season. Statistics are per-game averages:

*--* 1999-2000 -- TROY HUDSON G Min Ast TO Pts 62 25.7 3.9 1.7 8.8 2000-2001 -- JEFF McINNIS G Min Ast TO Pts 81 35.0 5.5 1.4 12.9 2001-2002 -- JEFF McINNIS G Min Ast TO Pts 81 37.4 6.2 1.8 14.6 2002-2003 -- ANDRE MILLER G Min Ast TO Pts 80 36.4 6.7 2.6 13.6 2003-2004 -- MARKO JARIC G Min Ast TO Pts 58 30.3 4.8 2.0 8.5 2004-2005 -- MARKO JARIC G Min Ast TO Pts 50 33.2 6.1 2.0 9.9

*--*

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