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Sunday, March 26, 2006 

CLIPS BLAZE TRAIL TO VICTORY

A day after finishing their feast on the East 20-10, including 7-3 against the Atlantic, 4-6 contra the Central, and 9-1 versus the Southeast, the Clippers equalled their high-water mark of 13 games over .500, rising to 41-28 with their Clipper-record 17th road victory, a wire-to-wire 97-83 win over the Trail Blazers tonight in Portland. The game capped a stretch of five in seven days during which the Clips went 3-2.

The Clips lost their Mar. 15 game in Phoenix within the first two minutes; tonight, they exploded to an 8-1 edge, extended it to 29-11 after one quarter, and held on easily from there. Elton Brand led all scorers by an expansive margin with 30 and 11 rebounds on 10-18 FGs. Corey Maggette contributed 19 and 6, compensating for 3-9 FGs with a perfect 13-13 from the charity stripe. Sam Cassell threw in 12, Chris Kaman 8 and 10 rebounds, and Q Ross 6 on 3-4 FGs to round out the starting five.

Shaun Livingston dished 5 dimes and scored 9 points, including a tomahawk second-quarter slam dunk that Ralph Lawler called "the most aggressive move" of Shaun's two-year pro career. Vin Baker made a surprise Q1 appearance and completed an old-fashioned three-point play with a layup-and-one off a nice assist from Cassell. Meanwhile, Vladimir Radmanovic continued to ache from the arc; his 8 points included 1-4 from the perimeter as the Clips hit just 1-5 3FGs.

Happily, the Clips did better from closer in, outshooting the Blazers 50% to 34.3% overall and 86.5% to 76.3% on FTs. Most of Portland's firepower came off the pine, as their young bench outscored L.A.'s, 57-22. The Clips' competition will improve appreciably in coming weeks (about which more in an entry on Tuesday), but tonight we can all sit back and appreciate a wonderful weekend of back-to-back wins.

Quotes of the Night:
-- After Ralph noted that Mike Smith rarely joins Brand and Cassell on the team bus that arrives at the arena first, Mike said, "I sometimes take the second bus to balance it out. You don't want all the talent on the first bus."
-- After Mike noted that the Clips hadn't scored for the first three minutes of the second quarter, Ralph said, "They haven't scored, and they're pulling away."

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


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