Cassell: Consistent effort is lacking

Times Staff Writer

It's all about energy for the Clippers, at least that's the way point guard Sam Cassell views things.

The team's recent rough stretch has more to do with poor effort at times than lack of talent, Cassell said, and the problem is fixable. The Clippers' swagger will return when their determination does.

"It's not about Xs and O's, it's not about strategy, it's about us playing harder," said Cassell, who aggravated an ankle sprain in the Clippers' 103-88 loss to the Denver Nuggets on Sunday.

"When we don't play hard at the beginning, we don't have a chance to win, it's that simple. Our effort has been there at moments, but we're an all-out ballclub.

"We've got to play hard for the whole 48 minutes. We're getting beat on the hustle things, not the execution things, but we understand that as a team."

The Clippers are 0-5 on the road and 0-2 on a three-game, five-day trip that ends Tuesday against the Sacramento Kings.

Last season, the Clippers set a franchise record with 20 road victories, finishing 20-21. The 1974-75 Buffalo Braves had 19 road victories.

"Our effort just hasn't been there, and that starts with me," Cassell said. "That starts with me getting the guys ready. I've been mellow with the guys, but it's time for me to put my foot down, and that starts with myself.

"We just all have to play all-out hard offensively, defensively


Tim Thomas said he's still learning Coach Mike Dunleavy's system.

"It's still a sort of figuring-out process for me," Thomas said. "I would rather get some easier looks as far as post-ups and stuff like that, but right now it's not in the play calling. Right now, the shots that I'm getting are pretty much long-range shots."

Thomas scored 11 points against the Nuggets. He was two for nine from the field.


Center Chris Kaman sat out his second consecutive game because of a sprained left ankle. Kaman said there's no timetable for his return.


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