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Sunday, March 12, 2006 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY DEAR ELTON...

The Clippers celebrated Elton Brand's 27th birthday with their second road win in two nights, blowing an 18-point lead before pulling away down the stretch to sweep the season series with the Milwaukee Bucks, 106-98. Brand and Chris Kaman paced the Clips with 22 points apiece, including the first threeball of EB's career on an inbounds pass from Sam Cassell at the halftime buzzer.

EB recorded 10 rebounds and six blocks -- he turned the fourth quarter into his own personal block party -- and has now officially served more double-doubles than In & Out. Kaman ordered it animal style, hitting 10 of 13 field goals and posting 10 boards before fouling out late. Together, the two form a frontcourt tandem that -- at their best -- can compete with any in the NBA.

Cassell added 20 points along with five rebounds and four assists, and how often do three teammates go for 20+? Throw in 16 points and five rebounds from Vladimir Radmanovic -- whose pair of treys in the fourth quarter silenced the Bucks' full house -- and 11 in 16 minutes from Corey Maggette, and Coach Dunleavy had an embarrassment of riches even on a night when Cuttino Mobley struggled to score seven on 2-9 FGs.

Michael Redd got to the line at will and converted 14-15 FTs to spearhead Milwaukee's comeback from 42-24 down to 86-85 up midway through the fourth. Redd led all scorers with 32 as the Bucks matched the Clips with five men in double figures. One of them, last year's MIP and former Clipper Bobby Simmons, scored 12 on 26.7% shooting and has not been the same player since his big payday.

With the victory, the Clips even their road record at 15-15 and rise to seventh in the league in RW-HL at +5. (Sixth-place Memphis (+6) has played six fewer games at home than on the road.) The Clips now need one win to equal last season's total of 37, one road win to match the Clipper record of 16, and four road wins to tie the franchise record of 19. Pundits project a team will need 43 wins to make the playoffs in the West. If the Clips can't win one-third of their last 21 -- 36-25 + 7-14 = 43-39 -- they don't deserve to dance.

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


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