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Players believe they can beat the Lakers

Clippers will try to end a nine-game losing streak to the Lakers when they meet Wednesday night.

January 06, 2010|By Jim Peltz

Nine is enough -- and surely 10 is too many.

Or so the Clippers believe as they try to end a streak of nine consecutive losses to the Lakers when the teams meet tonight at Staples Center in a Clippers home game.

The Lakers swept all four games from the Clippers in each of the last two seasons, and the reigning NBA champions also won on opening day this season, 99-92, on Oct. 27.

But the Clippers trailed by only one point through three quarters of that last game. And several Clippers said Tuesday that they're confident they can finally topple the Lakers if they play to their full potential, even though the Lakers have the best record in the league.

"We can beat anybody, we can beat the Lakers," center Chris Kaman said after the Clippers practiced at their Playa Vista training facility.

"The thing is, we have to play our best, we have to play our game the way we're capable of playing it," he said.

Clippers point guard Baron Davis said the key to defeating the Lakers is "heart."

"We have to believe we can win," he said. "We've got to go out there and be the aggressor, that's how you beat them. It's not about Xs and O's. It's about the effort and heart you put in."

The Lakers are "a great, disciplined team, they execute well, they have the best player in the NBA [Kobe Bryant] and they're big," Davis said. "So in order for us to win we've got to play hard. That means we've got to rebound, get loose balls and be aggressive on the defensive end."

Coach Mike Dunleavy agreed that "we can beat any team in the league" but added that "it's going to take a big game defensively from us" to knock off the Lakers.

"Offensively it's going to be taking care of the basketball, taking good shots, not giving them opportunities to get out in the open court where Kobe gets to fly," Dunleavy said.

The Clippers also will need a strong game from their backups and avoid the turnovers that hobbled them in the first half of their victory against the Portland on Monday.

"We get games like we got last night from our bench and all of a sudden we're much better, much more dangerous," Dunleavy said.

Kaman's campaign

After Kaman got off to a fast start this season, the question was whether he could maintain his career-high scoring pace.

With more than one-third of the season behind him, the answer so far is yes.

Kaman remains among the league's highest-scoring centers with an average of 20.3 points per game, nearly double the 10.4-point average in his first six seasons in the league.

The difference is "just consistency," he said. "Just being disciplined, taking my time, taking extra shots before the game.

"At the same time my teammates do a great job of giving me the ball in positions where I can score."

Dunleavy said that Kaman "has a lot of talent and he's worked on it." Dunleavy also noted that Kaman this season found an increased willingness to shoot with the team's blessing.

"In early years he always had this penchant for wanting to get closer to the rim," Dunleavy said. Now, he added, Kaman knows that "nobody is going to bark at you for shooting open 15- and 17-footers."

Kaman is "one of the few guys in the league that really can score both left-handed and right-handed, and he's got the ability to shoot the ball from the outside," Dunleavy said. "He's as versatile a big man as there is in the league."

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