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They Try to Keep Everyone on Edge

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Times Staff Writer

They looked like easy winners for a time Friday against the Seattle SuperSonics, then it looked as if they had given away a certain victory. That’s the Clippers for you, safe and secure one minute and then anything but in the next.

After letting all but two points of a 15-point lead late in the third quarter slip away, the Clippers heaved a giant sigh of relief after Seattle’s Desmond Mason picked off Andre Miller’s errant inbounds pass at midcourt with 3.4 seconds left but missed what should have been a game-tying layup.

Instead of driving for an uncontested basket, Mason pulled up short and lofted a funky scoop shot that rolled off the rim with 0.4 still showing on the clock. Seattle’s Ansu Sesay tipped in the miss after the buzzer and the Clippers took a 90-88 victory.

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“I told them,” Coach Alvin Gentry said, “if they got in trouble just throw the ball toward our basket [and make the SuperSonics go the length of the court for a tying bucket], but they didn’t listen.”

Said Miller of failing to connect with 7-foot center Michael Olowokandi: “I threw it to him because he was the biggest guy on the court. I kind of overthrew it, but we still came out on top, so I’m not worried about it.”

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Gentry praised Miller for his first triple-double as a Clipper (16 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists) and also for his defensive play against point guard Gary Payton (17 points, seven rebounds and 10 assists).

“A triple-double is impressive,” Gentry said. “But I thought he did a really good job on Gary Payton. It was probably as good a job as we’ve done on him in three years that I’ve been here. We got him in some early foul trouble and that helped and it worked out great for us.

“We needed a win in the worst way.”

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TODAY

vs. Dallas, 12:30 p.m.

Channel 5, Telemundo

Site -- Staples Center.

Radio -- XTRA (690) and (1150); KTNQ (1020, Spanish).

Records -- Clippers 14-22, Mavericks 30-5.

Record vs. Mavericks -- 0-2.

Update -- The Mavericks have the league’s best record, have won five in a row and eight of 10 and are 12-3 on the road. They defeated the Clippers twice at Dallas this season and neither game was close, with the Mavericks averaging 112 points. This is the first game in a three-game home stand for the Clippers. Actually, it’s four games, but their Jan. 20 game against the Lakers is designated as a road game. The Clippers also play host to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday and to the Sacramento Kings on Saturday. See any pushovers?

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