LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Whenever the Los Angeles Clippers think they
have everything figured out, coach Mike Dunleavy is there to remind
them they don't. If that doesn't work, there are always hungry
teams like the Toronto Raptors to give them a reality check.
Corey Maggette scored 30 points Wednesday night and Sam Cassell
had 10 of his 26 in the fourth quarter for the Clippers, who didn't
take their first lead until less than 2½ minutes remained in their
103-100 victory over the Raptors.
"I'm optimistic about how we've played, and I was optimistic
all summer long about our abilities and our potential. But we
haven't played any of the elite teams," Dunleavy said. "We
haven't played Detroit yet. We haven't played San Antonio. So that
tempers where we are.
"When you come head-to-head with those kind of teams and beat
them, then you get the feeling that you can take yourself up a
couple of notches on the totem pole. Right now, I think we're a
team that can make the playoffs if we stay healthy and continue to
play the type of basketball we're playing."
The Pacific Division-leading Clippers are off to the best start
in the franchise's 36-year history at 9-2 and have matched the team
high for most wins in November, set last season (9-6). Their 5-0
start at home also tied a club mark. The only other time they won
their first five home games was 1983-84, their final season in San
Brand, who was named Western Conference player of the week on
Monday, had 21 points and 13 rebounds. He is the only player among
the league's top 10 in scoring, rebounding, field goal percentage
and blocked shots per game.
Chris Bosh scored 24 points for the Raptors, who have lost 11 of
their first 12 games. The third-year forward, who had a career-high
23 field goal attempts in Tuesday's 90-82 loss at Phoenix, was
7-for-16 against the Clippers and finished with nine rebounds.
"It's frustrating to lose the ballgame, especially when we're
giving a valiant effort," Rose said. "It's doubly frustrating
because of the way I've been playing. The guys are doing what they
can to help us win ballgames, and they need me to step up and play
the way I'm capable of playing."
Trailing by as many as 12 late in the first half, the Clippers
didn't take their first lead until Brand's 17-foot jumper with 2:17
to play. Bosh made one of two free throws, and the Raptors pulled
ahead 99-98 on a short running jumper by Mike James with 1:26 left
after an offensive foul by Clippers center Chris Kaman.
The Clippers regained the lead 14 seconds later on Kaman's hook
shot. Matt Bonner missed a 3-point attempt from the right corner
but Maggette's try for a clinching layup rolled in and out of the
cylinder. The Raptors rebounded and called timeout to set up a
play, but Morris Peterson missed another 3-point try with 8 seconds
on the clock and Maggette iced it with two free throws.
"They got aggressive and we didn't match their intensity
level," James said.
Cassell scored 10 straight Clippers points in a 2:56 span to
keep Los Angeles within striking distance, and Maggette's 3-pointer
tied it 96-all with 3:02 remaining.
"Last year we definitely lose this game -- a close, tough
game," Brand said after the Clippers' fourth straight victory.
"But bringing in a guy like Sam Cassell who controls the clock in
late-game situations helps us. He gets the ball where it needs to
The Clippers' turnaround couldn't have come at a better
time for Dunleavy, who is in the third year of a three-year
contract that includes a club option for next season. "I'm not
worried about the club talking to me about an extension," Dunleavy
said. "I'd love to be here. Heck, I'd like to be here the next 10
years, but it's not my call. I mean, I came here because I wanted
to be here. I've got this year, my option year is next year, and I
would assume they're going to pick it up, but that's their call.
We'll see what happens." ... Shaun Livingston, who hasn't played
this season because of a lower back problem, is scheduled to
undergo an MRI exam next week to determine whether he'll get
clearance to start practicing. ... Quinton Ross played 19 scoreless
minutes after missing the Clippers' previous two games because of