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Kaman showing increased maturity

Times Staff Writer

Center Chris Kaman’s continued progression was one of the few bright spots in the Clippers’ loss to the Chicago Bulls on Saturday.

Kaman went scoreless in the first quarter, frustrated by the defense of Chicago’s Ben Wallace and the officiating.

But as the game continued, Kaman ventured to the outside, becoming involved in pick-and-rolls and baseline jump shots before returning to the post.

He finished the game with 21 points on 10-of-17 shooting and had eight rebounds.

“We adjusted and said, ‘You have to play pick-and-roll,’ and he banged down four or five jumpers and we adjusted some of our play sets to get him better catches and he scored in the low post as well,” Coach Mike Dunleavy said.

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“It was a positive from that game because when I called his number for the pick-and-roll, he was like ‘Me or Tim [Thomas]? And I was like, ‘You.’ ”

Kaman is averaging 18.7 points and 13.3 rebounds through the first nine games.

Dunleavy said there was a chance Kaman would have grown too frustrated to be effective if the game had occurred last season.

“It’s possible,” Dunleavy said. “He is growing. There’s no question about that. He’s expanding this whole season.”

Cuttino Mobley (strained right groin), Quinton Ross (banged knee) and Al Thornton (sprained ankle) are game-time decisions to play tonight against the Denver Nuggets.

Mobley and Ross are the team’s top backcourt defenders and, if healthy, would probably draw the assignment of covering Allen Iverson. Ruben Patterson probably will defend Carmelo Anthony.

“You’ve got to go with who you got,” Dunleavy said. “Just work your schemes, whatever it’s going to be.”

The Clippers practiced with only nine players Tuesday. They used Fred Vinson, the team’s player development consultant and a former NBA player, just to run half-court sets of five-on-five.

And why not full court?

“We can’t get Freddy hurt,” Dunleavy joked, in light of the team’s injuries.

The Clippers held their annual Thanksgiving event with several team members and the coaching staff delivering meals, clothes and books to 350 families.

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TONIGHT

vs. Denver, 7:30, FSN Prime Ticket

Site -- Staples Center.

Radio -- 710.

Records -- Clippers 5-4, Nuggets 8-3.

Record vs. Nuggets (2006-07) -- 1-2.

Update -- Anthony (25.5) and Iverson (24.8) ranked fifth and sixth in the NBA in scoring as of Tuesday, before Anthony scored 26 and Iverson 22 in a victory over Chicago. “They run a ton of [isolations] for Iverson and a ton of [isolations] for Carmelo,” Dunleavy said. “It’s pretty much open court and [Iverson’s] type of game.”

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jonathan.abrams@latimes.com


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