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CLIPPERS

Chris Kaman and Baron Davis are potent combo in 120-95 Clippers victory

They combine for 36 points in rout of Minnesota, as their growing alliance contributes to chemistry of the team. It's 'the kind of game we want to play,' Mike Dunleavy says.

December 17, 2009|By Lisa Dillman
  • Clippers center Chris Kaman slips past Minnesota's Nathan Jawai for a layup in the second quarter Wednesday night.
Clippers center Chris Kaman slips past Minnesota's Nathan Jawai… (Ann Heisenfelt, Associated…)

Reporting from Minneapolis — Quarterback and wide receiver.

Yin and yang.

Actually, Baron Davis and Chris Kaman are more like the guys on one of those ubiquitous political shows on cable TV, talking over each other and even yelling. And, yes, keeping it worth watching . . . for better or worse.

On Wednesday night, it was for the better.

Kaman and Davis combined for 36 points in the Clippers' 120-95 rout of the Timberwolves at the Target Center. Of course, there were many more dimensions to the 25-point victory.

The Clippers, who are 7-4 in their last 11 games, received balanced scoring and tightened up defensively when it mattered. Every Clippers starter finished in double figures, and Rasual Butler had 21 points coming off the bench, hitting a season-high five three-pointers.

Camby had 18 rebounds, and Baron Davis had his fifth double-double of the season (13 points and 13 assists), and Kaman had his ninth double-double (23 points and 10 rebounds) and fourth in the last five games.

Eric Gordon had a game-high 25 points, and the not-so-obvious statistic was an eye-popping 30 assists for the Clippers (11-13).

"We did a great job of moving the ball," Clippers Coach Mike Dunleavy said. "When we make shots from the outside, it really opens up our game. We had a good inside-out game going tonight.

"The games when we have been really good have been when we have had the inside-out game. Having Gordon and Rasual Butler making shots to go with [Al] Thornton, Kaman and Davis in the low-post was the kind of game we want to play."

The Clippers had two sizable runs to put it out of reach. The first was a 19-2 surge in the second quarter, in which the Timberwolves missed nine straight shots in that stretch. The lesser of the two runs (11-0) came in the third quarter but was probably more important the way the Clippers have had their struggles in the fourth quarter.

Minnesota Coach Kurt Rambis was relegated to using words such as "abysmal" and described the Timberwolves' weak-side defense as "absolutely awful."

Then again, the Clippers didn't let up and let it get close.

"Game by game we have been doing a better job of playing four quarters," Kaman said. "Early in the year, we didn't really finish games. We didn't really have full games with four quarters, and I think we're doing a better job of that."

The team-wide chemistry has something to do with that, in particular, the growing understanding between Davis and Kaman.

Dunleavy compared it to a quarterback and wide receiver finding their comfort zone and rhythm.

Camby put a humorous point on the point guard/center alliance.

"They've got a love-hate relationship -- always yelling," Camby said, joking.

So, what is Camby? The living, breathing personification of Switzerland? "I'm like the glue. I keep everything together," he said.

Said Davis: "Me and Chris . . . if anybody on the team understands each other, it is me and Chris. You see us out there, yelling at each other. I know the guys he has played with in the past have always been constantly on him and down on him about his game and being hard on him.

"I just try to take a different approach. Very constructive. But, at the same time, not letting him get away with things that, a lot of times, he's been able to get away with out there on the floor, as far as settling and making an excuse for not dominating."

Davis and Camby were praising Kaman, with Camby saying he has been playing "All-Star-type basketball" all season long.

Kaman is averaging 21 points in the Clippers' three wins against the Timberwolves this season and has had double-doubles in two of the three. The Clippers have one game remaining against Minnesota, on Jan. 29, but Camby appreciates some distance.

"I'm tired of seeing those guys," Camby said, smiling.

The Timberwolves, undoubtedly, will second that emotion.

Etc.

It was a homecoming for former Minnesota players Sebastian Telfair and Craig Smith.

Smith and Telfair, who were traded to the Clippers in the summer, received supportive cheers from the crowd when they entered the game in the first and second quarters, respectively.

"It was cool to see the fans," Telfair said. "I know how I feel about Minnesota and I was anxious to see the reaction. And I got a pretty good reaction. Believe me, it makes us feel good."

What didn't feel good was a hard fall to the floor. Telfair suffered a bruised right hip in the second quarter but returned after receiving treatment.

"If we had lost, I'd be icing and crying right now," Telfair said.

lisa.dillman@latimes.com

twitter.com/reallisa

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