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CLIPPERS REPORT

Davis gets more time, more confidence

December 19, 2007|Jonathan Abrams | Times Staff Writer

It started in an otherwise meaningless game, an exhibition against the Golden State Warriors in October.

Clippers Coach Mike Dunleavy drew up a play that had Paul Davis' number.

He converted the shot, his confidence grew and with a steady diet of minutes, Davis seemed intent on showing that he was ready to be a rotation player once the season started.

"In the exhibitions, as far as from a lineup standpoint, it is totally different from the regular season," said Davis, a second-year forward from Michigan State. "It definitely built up my confidence to be that first big off the bench."

But when the season began, Davis' minutes slipped and his confidence waned. He did not play in three games and played sparingly in several others.

The 6-foot-11 Davis is forging his way back into the lineup, renewing his position as one of the initial forwards off the bench.

"Paul has given us some good minutes," Dunleavy said. "He's shot the ball well and played with a lot of energy. He's come up with some offensive rebounds, loose balls and blocked shots. His play has been better for sure."

In his last two games before Tuesday, Davis averaged seven points, 6.5 rebounds and two steals. Against the Miami Heat, Davis' size and fouls were used for extended minutes against the bulk of Shaquille O'Neal and Alonzo Mourning.

"It's not just confidence," Davis said. "I think anyone needs some time to get up and down, get loose and see how the flow of the game is going. When you only have so many opportunities, you have to take advantage of them. With the time that I have, I'm trying to make the most of it."

He is proving himself as a hustle player, ready to pounce on every rebound and give Chris Kaman the occasional breather.

"For myself, each game is building and getting better," he said. "Just don't take any steps backward."

Sam Cassell hopes to coach when he retires. His analysis on how Brevin Knight and Dan Dickau have manned the point during his absence with a strained calf:

"Dan and Brevin are two totally different point guards than myself. I've got the capability of posting up and the capability of creating my own shot.

"I think Brevin is a great set-up guy. He's a good passer. He's a solid defender. Dan is a guy who a lot of teams took for granted, but Dan Dickau is a guy that if he gets an opportunity to play, he can be successful. Without Dan Dickau, we don't win that game in [New] Jersey."

Cassell said there was a chance he could play in the team's Texas series, but, "There's a chance I may hit the lotto too," he added.

Instead, Cassell said he would probably return after Christmas during the team's home-and-home series with Phoenix.

Guard Cuttino Mobley (stomach virus) and forward Aaron Williams (bruised wrist) missed the game.

jonathan.abrams@latimes.com

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