Clippers win first playoff series in 30 years

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The Clippers were a happy bunch after putting
an end to a 30-year drought.

But there was a limit to their joy, since they believe there's a
lot more they can accomplish.

Cuttino Mobley and Corey Maggette each scored 23 points, Elton
Brand added 21 points and 13 rebounds, and the Clippers took
command in the third quarter to beat the Denver Nuggets 101-83
Monday night and win the first-round best-of-seven Western
Conference series 4-1.

Mobley pumped his fists repeatedly in the final minute, and his
teammates waved at the Staples Center fans, who stood and cheered
as the final seconds ticked off.

"We've got to keep winning," Mobley said afterward in a
somewhat subdued locker room.

"I saw what we had in training camp," fellow newcomer Sam
Cassell said. "This team was in a lot of games last year. They
just didn't have guys to finish games."

They do now, in the veteran backcourt combo of Mobley and
Cassell, but finishing wasn't an issue in the series finale.

The Clippers hadn't won a playoff series since 1976, when the
team was playing in Buffalo and beat the Philadelphia 76ers in the
opening round before losing to the Boston Celtics in the Eastern
Conference semifinals.

The franchise moved to San Diego in 1978, then to Los Angeles in
1984. The Clippers are in the playoffs for just the seventh time in
their 36-year history, only the fourth time since heading west, and
the first time in nine years.

The four wins in these playoffs matched the total for the
Clippers in their previous playoff appearances while playing in Los
Angeles. The franchise was 13-22 in the postseason entering these
playoffs, including 9-13 while playing in Buffalo.

"For the organization, it's a tremendous accomplishment," said
third-year coach Mike Dunleavy. "It's been a long time since this
has happened. But for me, it's the vision I had. My philosophy
through it all is you have to defend to be good."

And defend the Clippers did, holding the Nuggets under 40
percent from the floor in four of the five games in this series.

"It's just a great feeling," said Brand, who played in 544
regular-season games before making his playoff debut April 22.
"It's still kind of surreal. I might not appreciate it until we
start the second round."

The Clippers meet the winner of the Lakers-Suns series. The
Lakers take a 3-1 lead into Tuesday night's game in Phoenix.

Should the Clippers face the Lakers, it would be the first
postseason meeting ever between Los Angeles teams in the NBA, NFL
or major league baseball.

Cassell was one Clipper who made it clear who he'd like to face

"I was always a Laker fan -- Magic Johnson, James Worthy, my
main man Norm Nixon," Cassell said. "Kobe Bryant's my favorite
player. It would be the battle of Hollywood -- it would be great for
the city."

Cassell and Chris Kaman scored 10 points apiece and Shaun
Livingston had eight points and 14 assists for the Clippers.
Maggette, Brand, Kaman and Livingston are making their postseason
debuts this spring.

Carmelo Anthony scored 23 points, Greg Buckner added 20 and
Andre Miller had 15 points, six rebounds and eight assists for the
Nuggets, who went 1-16 this season when scoring less than 90

"We definitely kept him in check," Brand said of Anthony, who
shot 8-of-24 Monday night.

The Nuggets were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs
for the third straight year.

"This one hurts worse than the other two," Anthony said. "We
have issues. I saw guys who did not want to be here and play in
this game. We did not play playoff basketball in this series.

"I don't want to be like Kevin Garnett and take eight years to
get out of the first round."

The Nuggets haven't won a playoff series since 1994.

"It's definitely disappointing and frustrating not to get out
of the first round," said Denver's Marcus Camby, who had six
points and 11 rebounds. "We had dreams of winning the

The Nuggets shot 6-of-9 to start the third quarter while
outscoring the Clippers 14-9 to draw within one point.

But that's as close as the Nuggets would get.

Maggette and Brand each scored six points and Mobley added four
in a 20-3 run to finish the third period and start the fourth,
giving the Clippers a 75-57 lead. The Nuggets shot 1-of-12 during
the spurt.

The Clippers led by as many as 25 points in the final period.

The Clippers outscored the Nuggets 17-8 to finish the second
quarter for a 46-40 halftime lead, and they were on top the rest of
the way.

Game notes
Clippers C Zeljko Rebraca was inactive for the game after
feeling chest pains during warmups. He missed 50 games while
playing for Detroit in the 2002-03 season because of an irregular
heartbeat, and 24 earlier this season for the same reason. He said
he wasn't concerned, adding: "Everything is under control." ...
Brand, who scored all but three of his points in the second half,
was presented with the Joe Dumars Trophy as the NBA Sportsmanship
Award winner before the game. ... Denver's Reggie Evans was fined
$10,000 and assessed a flagrant foul penalty two for what the NBA
called "unnecessary and excessive conduct" with Kaman in Saturday
night's game. ... The Nuggets averaged 100.3 points per game during
the regular season, but only 87.4 in this series.