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Cassell excels at getting defenders pumped up

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Times Staff Writer

It’s one of the shrewdest yet simplest moves in basketball.

Sam Cassell dribbles to the elbow off a pick, pulls up and pump fakes.

The defender jumps and crashes into the Clippers guard.

Whistle. Cassell gets two shots at the line.

He’s been perfecting it for years and will probably do it until he retires. Then he will pass it on to young guards when he fulfills his goal of becoming a coach.

It’s a move that drives opponents crazy and one that keeps the smile on Cassell’s face.

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Call it Basketball Entrapment 101. His secret?

“I watch their feet,” Cassell said.

Cassell, in his 15th NBA season, scored 35 points in Wednesday’s win over the Indiana Pacers and he has used his bread-and-butter move effectively several times already this season.

Last month during an exhibition game against the Sacramento Kings, Mike Bibby fell for it twice, fouling Cassell each time. Cassell said Bibby later asked him how anyone could defend the move.

“He’s a dangerous shooter, so you know he has the ability to make the shot,” Clippers Coach Mike Dunleavy said. “So that puts his defender on notice. And then he just does a good job of selling the fact that he’s going to shoot the ball.

“A lot of guys, when they fake, you can tell it’s a fake as opposed to the real thing. He just does a good job of mixing that where you don’t know. Some guys have a really good knack of selling what they are going to do and he’s one of them.”

But what happens if a defender doesn’t buy into the fake?

“Then I’ll shoot it,” Cassell said. And that’s been pretty effective throughout his career too.

The Clippers are unbeaten, but not unscathed.

Cuttino Mobley (strained right groin) will not play against Detroit tonight and could be sidelined up to a week. He sustained the injury early in Wednesday’s game, a day after scoring 33 points against the Chicago Bulls.

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Forward Corey Maggette is also questionable tonight after going to the floor hard on a drive to the rim in Indiana. He aggravated a bruised tailbone, an injury that he has played with since training camp.

Forward Ruben Patterson will be a game-time decision after reinjuring his dislocated right pinkie.

And point guard Brevin Knight, who turned 32 Thursday, is probable after not playing against the Pacers because of a sore lower back. He sustained the injury after a hip check by Chicago’s Ben Wallace on Tuesday.

TONIGHT

at Detroit, 5 PST, Channel 5

Site -- The Palace of Auburn Hills.

Radio -- 710.

Records -- Clippers 4-0, Pistons 3-1.

Record vs. Pistons (2006-07) -- 0-2

Update -- The Clippers attempt to turn an already successful trip into an even better one with a win over the heavyweight Pistons. They last won in Auburn Hills on Feb. 19, 2001; they’ve lost all of their six visits since.

jonathan.abrams@latimes.com

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