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CLIPPERS REPORT

Dunleavy hopes win over Suns starts trend

January 17, 2008|Jonathan Abrams | Times Staff Writer

It seemed as if the Clippers were pushing a rock uphill, trying to get over the top in their recent six-game homestand.

A run of close losses was finally capped by a victory over the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday, one the Clippers hope will get the momentum swinging in their direction.

"There's a bunch of potholes on the road for us and if we can come up and knock off some big teams and gain the momentum, it will be really good for us," Coach Mike Dunleavy said.

Before defeating the Suns, the Clippers nearly beat the Dallas Mavericks on Saturday night at Staples Center, but some bad clock management cost them at the end of that game.

The Clippers shot over 50% in their last two games, the only times they have done so all season.

The next part of the solution is getting more than one or two players to make their shots on a given night.

On Tuesday, Sam Cassell carried the Clippers with 32 points and Corey Maggette added 21, but a sprained ankle limited Chris Kaman offensively.

"I'd prefer that we'd be more unpredictable and not have to have somebody have a spectacular night," Dunleavy said. "When you do that, you become a much tougher team."

The Clippers' last five opponents are a combined 126-63.

It doesn't get much easier from there.

The Clippers play three games in four days starting Friday at Utah against the Jazz, one of the league's best home teams at 16-3.

"We know what we have to do," Dunleavy said. "We've got a formula. We know what we have to do to beat teams. It comes down to can we do it? Can we make shots? Of late, we've been executing better."

The Clippers missed all six of their three-point shots against the Suns. Surprisingly, they moved to 2-0 when they've gone without a three-point basket.

They missed all 14 of their three-point shots on New Year's Eve in a victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves.

"Maybe we shouldn't shoot any threes then," Dunleavy quipped.

The Clippers are making 32.5% of their three-point shots, tied for third-worst in the NBA.

Elton Brand, sidelined because of a ruptured Achilles' tendon, is scheduled to be examined the last week of January.

If cleared, Brand, who has trimmed 13 pounds while increasing his cardiovascular workouts, will be allowed to run at full speed and try to jump off both feet for the first time since suffering the injury in August.

The Clippers went through a light practice of watching video and a walk-through Wednesday.

Kaman (ankle) and Brevin Knight (stress reaction) did not practice.

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jonathan.abrams@latimes.com

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