Coach Says Streak Means Little Now

Times Staff Writer

The Clippers are one victory away from their first five-game winning streak since November 1995, but Coach Mike Dunleavy isn't attaching too much significance to their early-season success.

Long-suffering Clipper fans will recall that the 1995-96 team finished 29-53 and far removed from playoff contention.

And Dunleavy said that although he admires the attitude and work ethic his players have exhibited, he is not prepared to draw any conclusions based on six games, including five against teams that did not make the playoffs last season.

"There hasn't been a big enough sample of games for us to determine who we are, period," Dunleavy said. "[The winning] is nice, it's great. But as far I'm concerned, we haven't done anything."

There are some encouraging signs, though, as the Clippers (4-2) embark on a three-game trip that starts Tuesday in Cleveland before shifting to Indiana and Minnesota.

Forward Chris Wilcox has stepped up in the absence of the injured Elton Brand. Guards Marko Jaric and Eddie House have provided a lift off the bench with their hustle and three-point shooting. And rookie center Chris Kaman chipped in with his most complete all-around performance Saturday in the Clippers' 95-92 victory over the Orlando Magic, contributing eight points, nine rebounds, three assists and two blocks.

"Chris came in and gave us a tremendous amount of energy on the boards and defensively took up the space we needed him to take up," Dunleavy said.

"Other guys got to step up [in Brand's absence], and we've been doing that collectively," said guard Quentin Richardson, who tied a career high with 31 points against the Magic. "Every night it seems a different guy steps up."

Said Jaric: "Every time we play together, we win."

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