Point Guard Still a Major Concern

Times Staff Writer

Spotty at best during the team's 0-2 start, the play of the point guards remains a Clipper concern, as it was throughout training camp.

Keyon Dooling started both games against the Seattle SuperSonics at Saitama, Japan, averaging 3.5 points, two assists and two turnovers in 17 1/2 minutes. He made three of eight shots, none from beyond the three-point arc.

Marko Jaric, projected as the starter at one time but a backup against the SuperSonics, averaged four points, three assists and one turnover in 16 minutes. He made three of 12 shots, two of six from three-point range.

Eddie House, summoned from the bench when Dooling and Jaric went scoreless in a combined 22 minutes in the opener, outplayed them both.

He averaged 14.5 points, 3.5 assists and two turnovers in 28 1/2 minutes, making 12 of 31 shots, five of 11 from beyond the three-point arc. Known more as a gunner than a playmaker in three seasons with the Miami Heat, he also led a second-half rally in the opener that cut an 18-point deficit to four in the final minute, scoring a team-high 22 points on nine-of-19 shooting.

"When he came in, he played well," Coach Mike Dunleavy said of House, signed as a free agent over the summer and expected to be used mostly as a shooting guard. "He was shooting the ball well, so we just let him run with it."

House, however, scored only seven points in 24 minutes in the second game, misfiring on nine of 12 shots, and Dunleavy is reluctant to promote him, believing the team will be better off in the long run with Dooling or Jaric at the point.

"The mind-set, basically, is to give guys a fair chance," Dunleavy said. "I'm probably not going to pull the plug on them this soon. Let me play through a little bit. But if somebody emerges, that will change it."


Vote of confidence?

Asked whether he thought his teammates could keep the Clippers from falling too far behind in the playoff race while he is sidelined, injured forward Elton Brand said, "That's what I'm hoping. I know we're going to be prepared. Coach Dunleavy is going to have us prepared to hold the fort down.

"If we can do it or not, I'm not sure. But I'm hoping we can."

Brand, who suffered a broken right foot in practice last week, is expected to be out of the lineup for four to six weeks.


If Brand is sidelined the full six weeks, he will sit out 16 more games, nine against teams that made the playoffs last season. Four of the first five, however, are against teams that finished below .500 last season, starting with Friday's game at Denver against the Nuggets, who will be playing their third game in four nights.... After returning Sunday from Japan, the Clippers resume practicing today.

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