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CLIPPER REPORT

Dunleavy Discounts Matchup Speculation

March 07, 2006|Jason Reid | Times Staff Writer

Some in the media have suggested it might benefit the Clippers to lose games this month because of potential playoff matchups.

As the theory goes, the Clippers, who currently hold the fifth spot in the Western Conference, would be better off dropping to sixth to avoid an opening-round series against the fourth-place team, probably either the Dallas Mavericks or San Antonio Spurs. The Clippers supposedly would fare better against No. 3 Denver, which they've defeated twice in three games.

Sound reasoning?

"No," Coach Mike Dunleavy said Monday after practice at the Spectrum Health Club in El Segundo. "You play to win every game, it's that simple. We just want to be playing the best basketball we can be by the end of the season.

"I don't care what slot we land in, as long as we're playing the best we've played all year long. When you do that, bring 'em on. We'll take our chances."

Of course, some teams present better matchups than others.

"Obviously, there are certain teams that, on paper, are better," Dunleavy said, "but that's why you play the games."

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Although Quinton Ross said his back was "feeling better than it has all season," Dunleavy said he still planned to proceed cautiously with the team's best perimeter defender, slowed throughout the season because of back problems.

"He's OK," Dunleavy said, "but we're going to limit his minutes."

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In his first two games back in the lineup, Corey Maggette missed 12 of 16 field-goal attempts.

"It's going to come, I just have to be patient," said Maggette, who was sidelined 39 games because of a foot injury. "I'm just going to keep going out there and do what I do, being aggressive and trying to help this team."

TONIGHT

vs. San Antonio Spurs, 7:30, FSN West

Site -- Staples Center.

Radio -- 1150, 830.

Records -- Clippers 33-25, Spurs 47-12.

Record vs. Spurs -- 0-1.

Update -- San Antonio, which has the best record in the Western Conference, has won eight in a row. The Spurs defeated the Clippers in overtime, 95-87, Dec. 14 at the SBC Center.

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