Next Challenge Is on the Road

Times Staff Writer

As the Clippers embark on their first major trip of the season, through Cleveland, Indiana and Minnesota, Coach Mike Dunleavy wants his team to stay its present course.

Not only win, which the Clippers have done the last four games, but continue developing the habits and confidences the elite NBA teams have in place.

"I want us to continue to grow defensively, and with our play execution," Dunleavy said. "There have been times when we've done things extremely well, and times where we've had lapses. We haven't been as consistent as we need to be."

The Clippers have played the fewest games in the NBA, six. So three games in the next five days should give Dunleavy a better reading on where his team is, and how far it needs to go.

"Our effort has been pretty good," Dunleavy said. "It's been a big part of why we've won some games. We've been able to stay in games; being down hasn't fazed us.

"But there are areas to improve in, and one of them is consistency."


The Clippers already have seen Cavalier rookie LeBron James, in an exhibition game Oct. 17 that the Clippers won, 95-90. James had 16 points, but made only five of 14 shots, and had seven turnovers.

How much tougher will it be to guard James this time?

Corey Maggette isn't concerned.

"He's already proven himself in the beginning of the season," Maggette said of James. "It doesn't make a difference who we put on him -- and we've got three pretty good players to put on him. But who knows? It will depend on the rest of their lineup and what Coach [Dunleavy] wants us to do."


at Cleveland, 4 PST,

Fox Sports Net 2

Site -- Gund Arena.

Radio -- XTRA (690/1150)

Records -- Clippers 4-2; Cavaliers 3-7.

Record vs. Cavaliers -- 0-0.

Update -- Dunleavy said he planned to carve out some playing time for Glen Rice now that the veteran forward has come off the injured list. "We'd like to get him some opportunities to get up and down the floor," Dunleavy said. "I'm sure his minutes won't be big, based on conditioning and all, but he knows how to play and knows how to shoot the ball."

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