Monday, November 29, 2004

Simmons, Brand Lead Clippers


After losing Corey Maggette early in the second half, the Los Angeles Clippers got a boost from a pair of unlikely sources.

Quinton Ross scored a career-high 14 points and Rick Brunson added 12 off the bench as the Clippers posted a 98-87 victory over the Golden State Warriors.

Maggette, who leads Los Angeles in scoring at 18.5 points per game, twisted his left ankle with 53 seconds remaining in the first quarter trying to defend a 3-pointer from Mickael Pietrus. He sat out the second quarter and left the game after playing only three minutes in the third.

"With Corey going down with a sprained ankle and being quite shorthanded, we had great play from our bench," Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy Sr. said. "Quentin Ross was great, Rick Brunson was great, everybody came in and gave us a nice lift.

After X-rays, Maggette was diagnosed with a mild sprain and is listed as day-to-day.

"He tried to gut it out but I didn't think it was worth it, he could really hurt himself out there and I didn't want to risk any further injury," Dunleavy said.

Ross and Brunson, who entered the contest averaging 5.7 points per game between them, made sure Los Angeles did not miss a beat.

"It was great," said Clippers forward Bobby Simmons, who scored 17 points and had a career-high 12 rebounds. "That's what we're going to need as far as when someone else goes down we need guys to step up and fortunately those guys came in and did a great job for us tonight. Ross made a lot of great shots, a lot of open shots and Brunson ran the floor for us."

Ross hit 7-of-9 shots from the floor, playing largely in place of Maggette, who finished with 11 points. "We play hard," Ross said. "We try to play hard defensively, try to get stops and try to rebound the ball. We try to be in the right spots defensively on the floor and we forced them into some difficult shots."

Brunson shined down the stretch, scoring all his points in the final period. He made 6-of-7 shots, handed out four assists and made a pair of steals in just 18 minutes.

"I just thought tonight was a typical night on a back-to-back," Brunson said. "We had a lot of guys with little energy on the first team and I just thought the second unit came in and provided energy."

"Rick is really solid and he can shoot the ball and he just did a great job of executing our stuff," Dunleavy said. "He was just terrific at running the offense too, orchestrating and delivering the ball."

Elton Brand added 17 points as the Clippers moved above .500 after 13 games for the first time in eight seasons. Los Angeles has won 12 of its last 15 road games against Golden State.

"We're really not trying to make a statement, we're just trying to do what's best for the Clippers and I think as a team we have to realize we're trying to win every game," Brunson said. "We're trying to win every game with confidence. It's too early to make statements, this isn't college football where you play 10 or 11 games, we've got 82 games."

Speedy Claxton scored 22 points for the Warriors. He made 6-of-8 shots but his teammates made just 26-of-74 (35 percent).

"It's getting a little frustrating, nobody likes losing," Claxton said. "This is an important game for us, we could've picked up some ground. We played these guys earlier in the year and we let them kind of hand it to us and it was the same kind of way tonight. We've just got to find some kind of way to buckle down."

Golden State also struggled from 3-point range making just 4-of-18 shots (22 percent), including the starters going 0-for-9.

"We've got to quit settling for 3-point shots," Warriors coach Mike Montgomery said. "We've got to run offensively, more disciplined and not settle for the first open look we get. We're shooting the ball as if that's going to be our savior. We don't have a low-post game but we've got to establish some kind of presence in the paint so we can work off of it."

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Clippers Start Slow, Finish Strong


The Chicago Bulls got off to a quick start but could not slow Marko Jaric and Chris Wilcox in the second half.

Jaric scored 17 of his season-high 19 points in the second half and Wilcox had 10 points and eight rebounds after halftime as the Los Angeles Clippers erased an early 24-point deficit en route to a 97-96 triumph over the winless Bulls.

Chicago seemed headed for its first win in four games this season, holding a 49-25 lead with 6 1/2 minutes to go in the second quarter. But Bobby Simmons ignited a 23-5 burst with three straight points and fellow Chicago native Corey Maggette had nine of his 23 points in the run.

With the Clippers down, 54-48, at the half, Jaric and Wilcox took over in the third quarter. The duo combined for all the points in a 9-2 spurt that put Los Angeles on top, 69-67, with 2:55 left.

"(Jaric) banged out shots and got us back into it," Los Angeles coach Mike Dunleavy said. "We talked about having better spacing to our low post. We were clogging it up too much. We did and (Jaric) was open. We moved the ball and got him shots and he made them."

"We came out a little slow but picked ourselves up in the second quarter," Wilcox said. "We had to come together as a team and started passing the ball around and take good shots. The shots started falling for us. That is what we needed to do along."

Jaric had been in a shooting slump, entering the game 13-for-37 from the field. But he scored 13 points in the third, missing just one of five shots.

Bulls coach Scott Skiles was sure the Clippers would rally.

"I would have been shocked if they had not come back," Skiles said. "To have them come all the way back, that is a different thing. You have to expect them to make a run at some point."

"It is very frustrating," Bulls center Eddy Curry said. "Even though they came all the way back, we never gave up. We just didn't have enough to get over the hill."

The Clippers opened a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter and withstood a late rally that included Kirk Hinrich's 3-pointer at the buzzer.

Curry, playing in just his second game after a two-game league suspension, had 20 points and 11 rebounds for the Bulls. Tyson Chandler added 17 and 13 - both season highs - making 6-of-7 shots.

Los Angeles won twice on its three-game road trip and bounced back from a listless 110-96 loss at New York on Friday. The Clippers have won four of their last five games at the United Center.

Chicago begins a seven-game road trip - its longest of the season - Tuesday in Sacramento.

Rookie Shaun Livingston, who attended high school in Peoria, went scoreless in 11 minutes.

Chicago led, 53-36, with 3 1/2 minutes left in the half when Maggette had two free throws to ignite a 12-1 burst that closed the half.