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Kidd Presents Unique Challenge

The Clippers tonight will get their first regular-season look at the Phoenix Suns’ new backcourt combo of Jason Kidd and Penny Hardaway.

Meanwhile, Clipper Coach Chris Ford may be without his most versatile guard, Derek Anderson, whose recent head pain was blamed on facial muscle inflammation by an ear, nose and throat specialist.

Without Anderson, who is listed as day to day, Ford may have to use a variety of players against Kidd, who loves to post up smaller defenders.

“Jason is constantly pressuring you off the dribble,” Ford said. “Whether he’s taking it all the way, coming off picks, or whatever.

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“I think he’s one of the best. . . . He’s so strong and he’s still not of the mentality where he is looking for his shot first. He’s still looking to make the pass. But if you don’t get back and cut him off, he’ll take it all the way to the rim. If he sees it’s a point guard defending him, he’ll challenge you all the way to the rim.”

Troy Hudson, a thin 6 foot 1, will start at point guard against Kidd, who’s listed at 6-4, 212 pounds. Eric Murdock, who has been slowed by a nagging right knee injury but is a little bigger than Hudson, practiced the last two days and will also play against Kidd.

TONIGHT

vs. Phoenix, 7:30

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Fox Sports Net 2

* Site--Staples Center.

* Radio--KXTA (1150).

* Records--Clippers 4-9; Suns 9-4.

* Record vs. Suns (1999)--0-3.

* Update--Phoenix has beaten the Clippers seven consecutive times. The last time the Clippers defeated the Suns in Los Angeles was Dec. 16, 1996. Rookie Shawn Marion has scored in double figures in eight of 12 games for the Suns. Kidd and Hardaway lead the Suns in scoring, and forward Tom Gugliotta is their top rebounder.

* Tickets--(213) 745-0400 or (213) 480-3232.


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