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Of L.A.'s top five scorers, only Brand plays

3/21/2004

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The Golden State Warriors had no empathy for
the injury-ravaged Los Angeles Clippers at either end of the court.

Jason Richardson scored 13 of his 28 points in the first quarter
and grabbed nine rebounds for the Warriors, who coasted to an easy
96-85 victory on Sunday against a Clippers squad missing four of
its top five scorers.

"We knew we had to take advantage of it," Richardson said.
"We couldn't take them lightly because we knew that Bobby Simmons
and Matt Barnes were going to come out and play hard, so we tried
to open it up right out of the gate. I was feeling pretty good in
the first quarter and was hitting some big shots, and that got me
going for the rest of the game."

Erick Dampier had 16 points and 17 rebounds for the Warriors,
whose fourth straight victory matched their longest winning streak
of the season -- following a season-worst nine consecutive losses.
Dampier leads Western Conference centers with 38 double-doubles.

"When you can hold a team to 38 percent shooting, that's
obviously a key for us -- to allow them to make only two or three
runs on their home floor," Warriors coach Eric Musselman said.
"They're a team that scored in transition, but I thought we had
real good transition defense.

"Richardson came out and played with a lot of force early in
the game and played very confidently at both ends of the floor --
and Dampier was off the charts for us in the first half. We're
playing the best team defense we've had all year."

The Clippers, coming off consecutive down-to-the-wire defeats to
their Staples Center co-tenants, the Lakers, lost for the 11th time
in 13 games.

Power forward Elton Brand, the only healthy Clipper averaging
more than 7.1 points, drew most of the defensive attention from the
Warriors and missed his first four shots before finishing with 20
points and 10 rebounds. Rookie center Chris Kaman, the only Clipper
to appear in every game this season, played 12 scoreless minutes.

"Missing three starters was kind of tough, but I didn't feel
helpless out there," Brand said. "Four of our five top scorers
were out, but we were still in this game and we could have won it.
We just didn't bring the energy. Guys were coming off the bench
filling those spots and they had to step up. It was just
disappointing."

The Clippers used their 23rd different starting lineup, with
Corey Maggette unavailable because of a sore left knee and Quentin
Richardson sidelined by back spasms. Backup center Chris Wilcox sat
out his fourth straight game due to a strained left Achilles'
tendon, and Marko Jaric missed his eighth game because of a
sprained big toe on his left foot.

It was the third time this season that Maggette and Richardson
missed the same game, and the first time at home. In the other two
games, the Clippers beat Toronto 78-68 on Jan. 9, and lost to
Memphis 102-100 on Feb. 11.

"During the course of a season, you're going to have
injuries," Simmons said. "After we got comfortable, we made a
game of it. But they had too many rebounds and easy baskets, and we
couldn't hit our shots."

The Warriors built a 22-point lead early in the second quarter
and never looked back, winning in wire-to-wire fashion for the
second time in four games. They pulled away with a 14-3 run capped
by Clifford Robinson's tip-in with 5:40 left in the first half,
extending their margin to 45-23. Robinson finished with 18 points.

The Clippers narrowed the gap to 75-64 on a 22-footer by Predrag
Drobnjak with 10:33 to play, but they never got closer than nine
points on a pair of 3-pointers by Keyon Dooling in the final
minute.

"A lot of guys who don't get a chance to play a lot of minutes
got that opportunity today," coach Mike Dunleavy said. "This game
is all about being ready and having your legs ready. We needed to
play better. We just didn't finish around the basket. All year
we've been suffering from bad decision making."

One thing that kept the game close was Golden State's 4-for-22
shooting from 3-point range.

"I thought we got good looks," Musselman said. "When you play
against a zone, you're going to take a lot of 3-point shots."

Game notes
Dunleavy observed his 50th birthday on Sunday. "I'm
starting the back nine today," joked the Clippers' coach, a
14-handicapper on the golf course -- and now eligible for the
Champions Tour. ... The national anthem was sung by former San
Diego Clippers center Swen Nater, who still holds the franchise
record for career field-goal percentage (54.2), rebounds in a
season (1,216) and rebounds in a game (32). Nater was honored by
the team in a halftime ceremony more than 20 years after playing
his last game for them. ... Warriors G Avery Johnson turns 39 on
Thursday. ... Golden State signed J.R. Bremer to a second 10-day
contract. F Troy Murphy was scratched because of a sprained left
ankle.