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Tuesday, March 14, 2006 

500th WIN A DUN DEAL FOR COMEBACK CLIPS

The Clippers' come-from-behind 95-87 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves last night at Staples Center held special meaning for several reasons:
-- It marked Mike Dunleavy's 500th NBA win, making him the 25th coach in league history to reach that milestone. With twenty regular-season games remaining, the team has already won as many games (37) as all of last year.
-- It elevated the Clips for the third time this season to their high-water mark of twelve games over .500 at 37-25. The 29-17 Clips lost at Detroit and the 30-18 Clips stumbled at home to Chicago.
-- It gave the Clips a rousing sendoff for their nationally televised clash with the division-leading Suns tomorrow night. They take a four-game win streak, a healthy roster, new confidence and new expectations into the Valley of the Sun.
-- It announced the arrival of Chris Kaman as an emerging star at center. In a game billed as EB v. KG, Kaman asked, "What about me?" Despite shooting just 7-15, the Kaveman scored 24 points and corralled a career-high 23 rebounds to go with four steals and three blocks.

Having said all that, Chris can still play a lot better. He allowed Mark Blount to establish interior position early, as Blount scored most of his 18 in an All-Star-like first half. Kaman ratcheted up his defense in the second half but still overrelies on finesse offensively. A few more monster dunks would cow the opposition and allow Chris to score almost at will.

A few other thoughts: ...The Wolves actually outshot the Clips on the evening as Kaman's difficulty finishing plays carried over to the rest of the team. I have rarely seen so many missed layups, as only Elton Brand (7-14) and Corey Maggette (5-9) managed to make half their shots...Both Brand (14 and 11, 0 FTAs) and Kevin Garnett (13 and 16) posted double-doubles, but each team did a good job of containing the other's superstar...Sam Cassell (17 points, 5 assists) and Marko Jaric (11 points, 3 steals) dueled to a draw...Maggs slashed his way to 15 points in 24 minutes, including 5-5 FTs, and looked his best since coming back...Cuttino Mobley scored 12 and Shaun Livingston dished out four dimes, but both earned their pay on defense. In concert with Quinton Ross, they held Ricky Davis, who scored 18 in the first half, to two in the second...Vladimir Radmanovic only hit one shot, but did he ever make it count. The Wolves' lead seesawed from five to three, to five, to three, to five, to three, before Kaman tied it at 77. On the next possession, Livy drove into the lane and threw it out to Vladi right corner for three: "BIIINGO!!!"...Ross' steal of Jaric's inbounds pass and breakaway dunk iced the win at 93-86 and recalled a similar play he made with the Clips down three in Toronto. In that game, Chris Bosh fouled Q, who converted the and-one to pull the Clips even...One bit of advice for Darrell ("Mr. Clipper") Bailey: When our guys are shooting FTs, make sure you stop chanting before they have to release. Cat missed a pair late and may have been thrown off his rhythm...

Click on Clipper Talk and join the discussion! -- Jordan

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