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CLIPPERS FYI

Clippers' Brian Cook gets minutes and recognition

Largely forgotten with Houston, the DNP disappears as Del Negro shows increasing confidence in Cook. He credits influence of his family for his positive outlook after enduring tough times.

November 24, 2010|By Lisa Dillman

Brian Cook, slowly but surely, is starting to redefine those nettlesome three initials feared by NBA players.

DNP.

Did Not Play vanished from Cook's game log, starting on the Clippers' last trip to the Midwest, turning into 19 minutes and his season-high 11 points at Indiana. Since then, there were nearly 22 minutes at home against the New York Knicks and 11-plus more (and a bench-pleasing dunk) in Monday's win against New Orleans.

"I have kids now," Cook said after practice Wednesday. "I don't want my kids to see me sitting on the end of the bench. I want to show them a positive person, a positive role model."

Never mind that one of the kids is an infant. But you get the idea. And the influence of his wife, Victoria, and his 13-year-old baseball-playing stepson has been considerable, keeping him going through the tough times.

There were times when the former Laker was almost a forgotten man in Houston the last two seasons, and the Rockets waived him in February. Cook, who turns 30 next week, admitted that he thought about quitting before signing with the Clippers in the summer.

"Yeah, I'm going to tell you the truth," said Cook, who is averaging 4.2 points. "You kind of get disappointed when you're not playing. My wife and my kids kept on telling me to keep on going."

Clippers Coach Vinny Del Negro has shown increasing confidence in the 6-foot-9 Cook, who has always been known for his three-point shooting.

"He can space the floor for us which opens up the lane more for Blake [Griffin]," Del Negro said. "Big guys that can shoot — it makes a lot of things look good — it also just stretches the floor, the spacing is better."

Cook didn't bring his teammates off the bench with a three-pointer, however. It came Monday when he dunked against the Hornets, causing Griffin and DeAndre Jordan to look positively giddy.

"They were happy for me. But it's good to have that feeling, that everybody is pulling for each other," Cook said. "At first, the guys were probably like: Where have you been for two years?"

His journey, through the good and bad, can help him assist with his young teammates.

"It's not about getting mad all the time," Cook said. "I used to be that way too when I was young. I would get mad if I wasn't getting [playing] time.…

"It's something I had to realize the hard way too."

It also led to some hard calls with family and friends.

"Once I got traded from Orlando, I had people around me, cousins and friends, that I probably shouldn't have had around me," Cook said.

"I got 'em up out of there. Sometimes people think they're in the league, you know what I'm saying. That they're obligated to the stuff that you work hard for.

"I have a big heart and I like to help people. Sometimes I had to start telling people, no. It's a maturity thing — just growing up."

lisa.dillman@latimes.com

twitter.com/reallisa

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