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Coach Relies on Rookies’ Defense

Times Staff Writer

Clipper rookies Shaun Livingston, Lionel Chalmers and Quinton Ross shared the court for much of the fourth quarter of Friday night’s 94-81 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers, but Coach Mike Dunleavy said he wasn’t throwing in the towel by throwing them all together.

Just the opposite, he said.

“I think they all can defend, and they did; got us back in the game,” said Dunleavy, who utilized Chalmers and Ross for the entire quarter and Livingston for six minutes. “Q Ross had five deflections in the fourth quarter; he was everywhere. Active hands and contesting shots and making all the right plays that we needed. Gave us a chance to get back into the game. Unfortunately, offensively we made some turnovers and didn’t convert. But defensively we got much better.”

Ross, who played last season in Belgium, made his NBA debut after sitting out Wednesday’s opener because of a bruised right ankle.

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Dunleavy is not opposed to an age minimum for the NBA draft.

“It goes a couple of ways, as far as I’m concerned,” he said. “I understand from the players’ perspective, for a high school kid, and this may be the right or wrong word, but if you can trick somebody into drafting you in the first round out of high school and get three years’ guaranteed money, you’ve got to do it....

“What do I think as a father? I think a 20-year age limit would be good. It gives kids a chance to be coached, both in basketball and in life. Go away to school someplace, make some mistakes, learn about living....

“I don’t see how going to college hurts you.”

The Clippers have taken high school players in three of the last five drafts: Darius Miles in 2000, Tyson Chandler in 2001 and Livingston last June. Chandler was traded to the Chicago Bulls in the deal that brought the Clippers Elton Brand.


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