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Kittles, Kaman Could Be Close to Returning

Times Staff Writer

Monday brought more encouraging news for the Clippers, whose 4-3 start has them talking about a playoff run this season and outsiders wondering if maybe they’re actually on to something.

Kerry Kittles, sidelined because of a sore right knee, fully participated in practice with his new team for the first time since the July trade that brought him from the New Jersey Nets, and Chris Kaman said he hoped to make his season debut Saturday against the Houston Rockets.

Kittles declined to speculate as to when he might play, but he’d told teammates earlier this month that he hoped to return on Thanksgiving, and Coach Mike Dunleavy said Monday, “Hopefully, after seeing him today, it’s before Thanksgiving.”

Kittles had been limited physically since arthroscopic knee surgery in June to clean out scar tissue but said he’d started jogging more than a week ago.

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“I thought it was time to get out there and see what I could do,” he said after Monday’s session at L.A. Southwest College, where the Clippers will practice once more Thursday before moving their workouts to an El Segundo health club for the rest of the season. “Everything was positive and I look forward to trying to get a rhythm out there and to be back as soon as possible.”

Kaman, sidelined because of a sprained left ankle, ran for the first time since suffering the injury in an exhibition game last month and said, “It felt good, actually. I’ve still got a little bit of a limp, but it’s getting there.”

A projected starter at center, Kaman probably will be a reserve when he returns, Dunleavy said last week, with Chris Wilcox continuing to start.

“He’s playing real good right now and we’re winning,” Kaman said of Wilcox, who has averaged 17.6 points and 7.4 rebounds. “You don’t really want to change something when you’re going like that. I’m not too concerned about it. I know I can perform well when I get out there. I’m just going to wait until I get the opportunity.”

*

TONIGHT

vs. Toronto, 7:30, FSNW2

Site -- Staples Center.

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Radio -- XTRA (690/1150).

Records -- Clippers 4-3, Raptors 4-3.

Record vs. Raptors (2003-04) -- 1-1.

Update -- Settling in for the next month, the Clippers play 12 of their next 13 games in Staples Center, leaving town only for a game in Oakland Nov. 26. The Raptors, four games into a six-game Western swing, are 1-3 after a 3-0 start at home. Rafer Alston has averaged 15.9 points and 6.1 assists.

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Tickets -- (800) 462-2849.


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