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CLIPPERS-SUNS REPORT

Dunleavy Keeps His Wits

May 17, 2006|Jason Reid and Mike Bresnahan | Times Staff Writers

PHOENIX — Apparently, Mike Dunleavy hasn't lost his sense of humor.

Reporters covering the Clippers-Suns Western Conference semifinal series have criticized the Clippers coach for removing power forward Elton Brand in the fourth quarter of Game 1, and having point guard Sam Cassell on the bench for all but the final 1 minute 17 seconds of the fourth quarter in Game 3.

The Clippers lost both games.

Dunleavy, however, seemed to be in a playful mood Tuesday while responding to reporters' questions about the substitution patterns of San Antonio Coach Gregg Popovich and Dallas Coach Avery Johnson in Game 4 of the conference's other semifinal series.

"When Pop took Tim [Duncan] out, and Dallas went on a 10-0 run, and Avery took out [Dirk] Nowitzki, and San Antonio had an 8-0 run for them, I don't know what they were thinking taking their stars out," Dunleavy said, jokingly. "Golly, you never know in this business. They just don't have smart reporters like you guys."

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Swingman Corey Maggette is among the NBA's most aggressive players on offense, but officials have made few foul calls in his favor this series.

Dunleavy has encouraged Maggette to continue playing his style.

"You have to play hard, you have to attack the rim, that's his game," Dunleavy said. "You can't worry about it. The officials call what they see.... You've just got to keep playing through that. Stay in attack mode and get to the rim."

That's still his focus, Maggette said, but he has also increased his efforts in rebounding.

Maggette led the Clippers with 14 rebounds in Game 3 and 15 in Game 4.

"If they're going to take away something, I can do something else," he said. "I'm not a one-dimensional player."

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Center Chris Kaman, who sat out Game 4 because of a strained right shoulder, relieved an anti-inflammatory injection before Game 5 and had 11 points and 10 rebounds in 20 minutes.

The three-year veteran received anti-inflammatory and cortisone injections in an attempt to play in Game 4.

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Fans attending Game 6 on Thursday at Staples Center should use tickets marked "B3," a Clippers spokesman said.

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Boris Diaw is listed at 6 feet 8, which has made the first two playoff series a bit harder defensively for the Suns center.

Diaw had to muscle up to Lakers center Kwame Brown in the first round and now gets Kaman, a 7-footer.

"It's tough," Diaw said. "You've just got to make up the difference with your energy and quickness.

"I can't just wait for them to put all their weight on me down low."

Diaw hasn't struggled on offense, averaging 17.5 points and 6.1 assists in the playoffs before Tuesday.

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The Suns played their 12th game in 23 days, more than any other playoff team.

It's their own fault -- they're the only team in the second round that went the full seven games in the first round -- but there hasn't been much rest.

If this series goes the full seven, there will be three days' rest between Game 6 and 7.

"You'd see higher energy for both teams," Suns Coach Mike D'Antoni said before Game 5.

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Suns center-forward Kurt Thomas probably will not play in this series, D'Antoni said.

Thomas has been out since February because of a stress fracture in his right foot.

"I would say it's very difficult this series," D'Antoni said.

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