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CLIPPERS REPORT

Kaman and Howard to mix it up on the court

January 09, 2008|Jonathan Abrams | Times Staff Writer

All eyes in Staples Center tonight will be front and on the centers.

In a matchup of two big men who have made great strides since last season, Chris Kaman of the Clippers will battle Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic for the first time this season.

Kaman is averaging 18.1 points and 14 rebounds. Howard, the top selection in the 2004 NBA draft, is averaging 22.4 points and 15.2 rebounds.

"I look forward to playing games, whether I win or lose, I look forward to it and try to have fun while doing it," Kaman said. "It's going to be a good matchup [tonight].

"[Howard] knows how to rebound the basketball and score. He's great. He's a monster. He can jump and he's really athletic."

Both centers are among the league leaders in double-doubles, rebounds and blocked shots.

But Howard is the only name being tossed around as a sure-fire All-Star selection and a most-valuable-player candidate.

Such is the luxury for Howard, whose team is in first place in the Southeast Division, while the Clippers are 11 games under .500.

"Both guys are having great years, rebounding the ball, scoring and blocking shots," Clippers Coach Mike Dunleavy said. "It's hard to find guys that are playing much better than they are. I think both guys still have an upside to their game."

The Clippers finalized Guillermo Diaz's 10-day contract and the guard practiced with the team Tuesday.

Diaz, the team's second-round draft pick in 2006, was playing with the Anaheim Arsenal in the NBA Development League.

"That was something I was thinking of," Diaz said. "Of how to make it back up here somehow. I was in the D league trying to do my best and it feels good being called up."

Diaz contemplated playing overseas.

"Sometimes you just have to wait and this came up unexpected," he said.

Diaz's signing came after an MRI exam revealed a stress reaction in Brevin Knight's left leg that will limit his playing time.

Best of all, Diaz doesn't have to commute from his Los Angeles apartment to Anaheim anymore.

"When we got the word on Brevin's situation and knew he couldn't practice at all, we had to make a move to get somebody who could play the point," Dunleavy said.

Forward Josh Powell sat out practice for personal reasons but is expected to be available tonight.

TONIGHT

vs. Orlando, 7:30, FSN Prime

Site -- Staples Center

Radio -- 710.

Records -- Clippers 10-21, Magic 22-14.

Record vs. Magic (2006-07) -- 1-1.

Update -- The Magic is playing the second game of a four-game Western Conference trip.

--

jonathan.abrams@latimes.com

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