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Sunday, April 02, 2006 


The Clips can't lose. Friday night's convincing 106-91 home victory over a hot Utah team fighting for a playoff spot guaranteed the Clips their first winning record since 1991-92. They also won the season series with the Jazz for the first time in 20 years and will have their third opportunity to rise 14 games over .500 tonight against the Sacramento Kings at Arco Arena, where they have lost a downright embarrassing 15 straight.

Unable to throw a pea in the ocean against San Antonio Tuesday, the Clips came out smoking against Utah, making as many shots as the Jazz in 17 fewer shots (36-65 for 55.4% vs. 36-82 for 43.9%). Both teams took 10 threes, but the Clips hit six to three for the Jazz, and L.A. won the free throw battle with 28-37 (75.7%) to 16-24 (66.7%) for Utah. All of that and single-digit turnovers sufficed to compensate for a glaring 12-1 deficit on the offensive glass.

Elton Brand and Sam Cassell led the Clips' balanced team effort with 22 points apiece, although E.B. had only one more board than E.T. (4-3). Vladimir Radmanovic found his mojo again with 4-6 3FGs for 14 points. Corey Maggette scored 13 in a rare start at the 2 as part of Coach Dunleavy's unusually large starting lineup, while Chris Kaman rounded out the starting five with an 11-and-13 double-double.

Shaun Livingston continued to play well off the pine. He and Cuttino Mobley each contributed 8 in 20+ minutes in reserve, while Zeljko Rebraca added 6 and Vin Baker 2 as the Clips' bench outscored the Jazz', 24-15. L.A. built first-half leads of 29-19 and 47-37 but led by only one, 53-52, at intermission. A 17-5 run midway through the third quarter gave the Clips a 77-64 lead that the Jazz never trimmed to single digits.

I've written extensively about the importance of winning games in arenas and against teams that have caused problems in the past. Tonight's game represents such an opportunity, and I'm eager to see how the team responds. Meanwhile, click on Clipper Talk and join the discussion. -- Jordan

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