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Sunday, April 16, 2006 

CLIPS HAVE ALL THEIR DUCKS IN A ROW

Down 18 in the second quarter Friday night, the Clips rallied to defeat the Seattle Sonics, 101-97, securing perhaps the key win of the season at Key Arena. With Denver's loss to Sacramento and Memphis' win in Houston last night, the Clips can safely rest their key players, lose out, and assure themselves the 6 spot and home-court advantage in a first-round playoff series with the Nuggets.

The story of the game was the rebirth of Cuttino Mobley. Cat connected on 7-10 FGs, including 4-5 at the arc, for 18 points, six assists and four rebounds. Elton Brand led the Clips with 30 and 15 on 10-20 FGs and a perfect 10-10 at the line, and Chris Kaman contributed 20 and 12 on 63.6% FGs. Not many teams in the league can cope with that potent a frontcourt tandem. Sam Cassell ended with 14 on 40% FGs, missing a lot of bad shots before coming through in the clutch again.

The Sonics built a 58-40 Q2 lead on unconscious shooting by Rashard Lewis, Earl Watson and especially Ray Allen, who made five threeballs in the frame en route to a game-high 33 points (Lewis and Watson ended with 20 apiece). But with Quinton Ross on Allen in the second half, Ray Ray wasn't the same player. And after erasing a 22-point deficit against Denver last week, defending their way back into this ballgame was child's play for the Clips.

Here's how the scenarios play out heading into tonight's game against these same Sonics at Staples Center:
-- If the Clips lose at Memphis Tuesday, they get 6th-and-home-court regardless of whatever else happens.
-- If the Clips lose tonight but win at Memphis, they get 6th-and-home with either a loss at Dallas or a Memphis win at Minnesota Wednesday.
-- If the Clips win tonight and at Memphis, they get 6th-and-home only if both they lose at Dallas and Memphis wins at Minnesota.

Mike Dunleavy has talked about the importance of home court. Now that the Clips have secured it, it's time to sit out the starters (Cat practically begged for rest in a postgame interview Friday night) and avoid putting their playoff fate in Mike Fratello's hands. On Fan Appreciation Night, this fan would appreciate nothing more than a heavy dose of Vin Baker, Daniel Ewing, Yaroslav Korolev, Walter McCarty, and Boniface N'Dong.

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

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