ESPN: Clippers' 6-2 start best in franchise history

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FU Spanos and Dundon
Staff member
Jun 20, 2005
Chula Vista, CA
Long time Clipper fan here since they were here in San Diego. What's everyone's favorite NBA team?

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Sam Cassell has earned a reputation for making every team he plays on better. It's even working for the Los Angeles Clippers.

Cassell had 23 points and nine assists before sitting out the fourth quarter, Corey Maggette added 21 points and the vastly improved Clippers breezed to a 109-85 rout of the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday night.

At 6-2, Los Angeles is off to the best start in franchise history and tied with defending NBA champion San Antonio for the best record in the Western Conference.

"It feels good to have the team playing at such a high level," Cassell said. "It was our defensive intensity that won it tonight. We had a lot of deflections tonight and our team strives off of deflections. We got on the break and we stopped them from scoring. I don't know what they shot as a team (39 percent), but I know it wasn't that high."

Elton Brand had 20 points and 11 rebounds. Quinton Ross, who has started all eight games for the Clippers at small forward, sat out the second half because of back spasms. Maggette, coming off the bench for the fourth straight game after missing the first four because of a left hamstring strain, scored his first 11 points in the second quarter.

"My job is to play basketball," said Maggette, who led the Clippers in scoring each of the previous two seasons. "As far as my situation, coming off the bench, I have nothing else to say about that. I'm going to let the coach handle that. I'm just glad my team is winning and playing good right now. Our team has a lot of weapons, and each game we have to use them to win."

Michael Redd and backcourt mate T.J. Ford each had 15 points for the Bucks, who have lost 17 consecutive road games against Western Conference teams since beating Sacramento 112-101 on March 23, 2004. They dropped all 15 on the road against the West last season.

"We've been playing from behind all year, and I don't know if it caught up to us," Milwaukee coach Terry Stotts said. "The Clippers came out and showed why they have the kind of record they do. They hit the shots they needed to hit."

Milwaukee entered as the only team that had not been held under 100 points, and had outrebounded its opponent in each of the first five games. But the Clippers finished with a 38-35 edge on the boards and limited the Bucks to two offensive rebounds in the second half.

"That was the difference right there," Los Angeles coach Mike Dunleavy said. "We didn't let them get second-chance points, and we were able to get out in the open court and run up the score."

Bobby Simmons, who left the Clippers after two seasons to sign a $47 million, five-year contract with the Bucks last August, scored 13 points in 32 minutes in his first game against his former teammates after averaging 14.2 points and 7.0 rebounds in Milwaukee's first five games.

Simmons, voted the NBA's most improved player last season, attempted only one shot in the first quarter and missed on a 17-foot jumper. He started 0-for-3 and finished 5-for-12 from the field.

When he arrived at his locker before the game, Simmons found a Clippers No. 21 road jersey hanging in it.

"He's a great friend of mine," Maggette said. "I was talking trash to him each time down the court, but I was glad to see him back."

The Clippers never trailed, increasing a 14-point lead to 83-59 with a 12-2 spurt capped by Brand's two free throws with 1:17 left in the third. Cassell, who turns 36 on Friday, scored the first six points of that run and Los Angeles opened the fourth with a 14-5 spurt for a 99-68 cushion with 6:18 to play.

"Corey, Elton, it's their team. I'm just a guy who's going to run the ship," Cassell said. "I've only got a couple of years left to play in this league. I'm playing this year and two more, and I'm done. I'm going to be a reserve next year and I'm going to live it out."

Game notes
The Clippers have beaten Milwaukee six straight times at Staples Center. The franchise record for consecutive home wins against one team is 13, against the Jazz. The first six were played in Buffalo, the last seven in San Diego. The Clippers beat Dallas 11 straight times at the L.A. Sports Arena from 1990-94. ... Maggette scored 34 points the last time he faced Milwaukee in a 116-108 win on March 23 in Los Angeles. ... Los Angeles opened with an 8-0 run while Milwaukee missed its first six shots. ... Milwaukee's Andrew Bogut, the first overall pick in the June draft, played 15 minutes and scored two points.