Dunleavy Won't Push the Panic Button Yet

Times Staff Writer

Coach Mike Dunleavy wasn't too excited by the Clippers' four-game winning streak, and he hasn't been depressed by the team's current three-game losing streak, including Saturday's 103-91 loss in Minnesota.

Dunleavy is maintaining an even keel in part because he is still figuring out his team. It's one reason, Dunleavy said, he will continue to juggle playing time.

"There's nothing in cement," Dunleavy said after Sunday's practice. "We're looking at combinations, searching for the guys who play well together.

"You can't play 12 guys every night.... We're trying to figure out what works best for us."

Dunleavy wants to settle on a rotation as soon as possible. But several injured Clippers still must heal, and it's early enough in the season where Dunleavy and his staff can experiment.

"It's like you keep trying things until you get successful, then you stay with it," Dunleavy said. "It usually comes down to the matchups. If you're winning games, your matchups are the ones the other team has to reckon with. If you're not winning and playing somebody who is, you have to adjust.

"That's kind of where we are right now."


A welcome sight at practice Sunday: Elton Brand wearing shoes.

Brand, recovering from a hairline stress fracture in his right foot, is encouraged enough by the healing that he wondered aloud whether he could start practicing again with the team in a couple of weeks.

"But I still have to wait for the doctors to clear me," Brand said.


Marko Jaric continues to recover quickly from his injured left foot, which sustained a partial tear of tissue Tuesday in Indianapolis.

The recovery is surprising even Jaric, who participated in nearly all of Sunday's 2 1/2-hour practice. Depending on the morning evaluation by team physicians, Jaric could be in uniform for tonight's game and even perhaps available to play.

Not bad for a guy initially thought to be lost for about a month.

"I'm so happy today because I was so scared after [the injury happened]," Jaric said. "I was almost crying from the pain I had.

"Right now I don't feel any pain even though its hard to jump. But I'm [still] scared psychologically to use my left leg. I don't want to hurt the team. We'll see how it is tomorrow."



vs. Houston, 7:30, Fox Sports Net 2

Site -- Staples Center.

Radio -- XTRA (690/1150)

Records -- Clippers 4-5; Rockets 8-4.

Record vs. Rockets -- 0-0.

Update -- The Rockets, in the midst of a five-game Western trip, are quietly off to a good start although they lost their last game on Friday, 85-78 to Portland. The 7-foot-5 Yao Ming continues to improve, averaging 16.8 points and 9.8 rebounds.

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