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CLIPPERS FYI

Late All-Star selection changes Chris Kaman's Valentine's plans

The center says he hopes his girlfriend understands after an injury to Portland's Brandon Roy opens the door for him to attend this weekend's activities.

February 09, 2010|By Ben Bolch

First came the applause. Then came the pats on the back.

At that point things took a truly silly turn Monday inside the Clippers' practice facility after General Manager Mike Dunleavy informed his team that center Chris Kaman has been selected as an All-Star replacement for injured Portland guard Brandon Roy.

Kaman's teammates playfully wrestled him to the floor, a few piling on top. "That wasn't fun," Kaman deadpanned later.

The Clippers were mostly giving the 27-year-old kudos for his first All-Star selection during a season in which he is averaging a career-high 20.2 points plus 9.0 rebounds. He's the first Clippers All-Star since Elton Brand in 2006.

Still, Kaman's selection was bittersweet. Noting that NBA Commissioner David Stern picked him only because Roy was sidelined by a hamstring injury, Kaman called it "like a half All-Star game for me, just not being selected right away" by Western coaches.

"Obviously, someone had to get hurt for me to make it on the team," said Kaman. "But I'm excited to be a part of it." Kaman said a planned getaway weekend with his girlfriend would have to wait. "Hopefully, she understands."

Strategy change

Interim Coach Kim Hughes said he "reined back somewhat" his team's new running game in the wake of its disastrous debut against the San Antonio Spurs.

The Clippers committed 21 turnovers and scored a season-low 27 points in the first half of a 98-81 defeat Saturday that prompted questions about the team's ballhandling and fitness.

"We're still going to try to run it, but I don't know if we can run it full-bore like we tried to run it against San Antonio," Hughes said.

Hughes agreed with Dunleavy's contention that free-flowing running offenses don't win championships, "but I think with this group, I'm willing to try that because we had trouble with the other way. They had trouble remembering plays," Hughes said.

Kaman said patience would be required with the new scheme. "We can't change overnight, and Kim's not going to become this superhero magician overnight," Kaman said.

What about Lucas?

The promotion of Hughes probably disappointed Clippers fans who had followed chants of "Fire Dunleavy!" earlier this season with ones of "Hire Lucas!," but assistant John Lucas wouldn't say whether he felt let down.

"There are so many factors that go into being named a coach that are out of your control," said Lucas, 56. "I was here to help Mike and now I'm going to help Kim."

ben.bolch@latimes.com

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