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Dunleavy Stresses Mental Toughness

Times Staff Writer

A four-game winning streak has given way to four losses in six games for the Clippers, the last two in Staples Center, where they had won five in a row and, Clippers or not, they probably expected to win.

They had a chance to get to .500 on Sunday but lost to the Toronto Raptors, 94-88. On Monday, they lost to the last-place Phoenix Suns, 113-105.

“I talked today about the mental aspect of the game,” Coach Mike Dunleavy said Tuesday after practice. “So much of the NBA is more than physical. It’s mental. It’s how you get through the tough times.

“Right now, we could be in one of those little danger zones, and your attitude could start slipping. You could start whispering, start pointing fingers. I’ve been around all that. I understand that. I know it. I look for it, and I’m not going to have it. You’ve got to stay focused, you’ve got to play hard, you’ve got to keep getting better.”

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Midway through a six-game homestand, the Clippers are 1-2, and the easy part is behind them. Up next are three of the top teams in the West: the Denver Nuggets tonight, followed by the Sacramento Kings and the Lakers.

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Predrag Drobnjak will be activated from the injured list today after sitting out six games. He was sidelined because of back spasms, the club said, an injury that coincided with dips in playing time and confidence for the Serb.

Drobnjak averages 8.2 points and 5.1 rebounds, but his productivity lapsed after rookie Chris Kaman became the starting center.

“You’ve got to figure that out, get comfortable,” Dunleavy said. “Sometimes, when you’re not playing and not getting the reps, you put a little bit more pressure on yourself at times to make things happen in the time you’re in there. There’s an art to coming off the bench. Certain guys take a little bit of time figuring it out.”

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TONIGHT

vs. Denver, 6:30, Fox Sports Net 2

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Site -- Staples Center.

Radio -- XTRA (690/1150).

Records -- Clippers 12-15, Nuggets 19-12.

Record vs. Nuggets -- 1-1.

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Update -- The Nuggets, 6-24 at this point last year, already have won more games than they did during last season’s 17-65 disaster. Rookie Carmelo Anthony is their leading scorer. Former Clipper Andre Miller was averaging 15.6 points and six assists before Tuesday night’s 81-74 loss to the Raptors.

Tickets -- (800) 462-2849.


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