Patterson’s position: power point
It was somehow appropriate that the player signed as a result of Elton Brand’s injury was in the lineup at his power forward spot to begin the season opener.
Coach Mike Dunleavy threw a wrinkle at the Golden State Warriors, starting Ruben Patterson in Brand’s spot and also assigning him the arduous burden of staying with Warriors guard Baron Davis on defense.
The 6-foot-5 Patterson, who played for the Milwaukee Bucks last season, was signed after Brand’s injury created a need for a forward. Although undersized, Patterson is considered scrappy and physical enough to defend nearly any position on the court.
“Coach wanted me on Baron and I want to start it off with energy and get these guys and the fans involved,” Patterson said before the game. ". . . He’s a heck of a point guard. You just have to deny him and keep him in front.”
The starting position may be temporary. Dunleavy said he started Patterson not only because of the defensive matchup, but also because Tim Thomas was hampered somewhat by a sore lower back this week.
“Whatever Coach wants me to do,” Patterson said. “If it means starting or coming off the bench. That’s what I’m here for. It really doesn’t matter to me.”
Patterson’s dislocated right pinkie, injured in an exhibition game against the Sacramento Kings, was taped to his ring finger Friday night. To his surprise, Patterson said, he is shooting better with the digits bound together.
“I can’t even explain it,” he said. “I’ve never had my two fingers taped like this. I was telling E.B. [Brand] about it and he said he used to do the same thing. It’s just a different feel.”
Dunleavy coached his 329th game with the Clippers, surpassing Jack Ramsay’s team record. Ramsay set the mark from 1972 to 1976.
“It’s great because I love being here and I think I’m going to have some more games after tonight,” Dunleavy said. “I’m more concerned about the wins, though, that’s the most important thing to me.”
Friday’s win was Dunleavy’s 153rd with the Clippers, five behind Ramsay’s team record.
Forward Aaron Williams (strained right calf) joined Brand (ruptured left Achilles’ tendon) and Shaun Livingston (dislocated left knee) on the inactive list.