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Brand gets a feel for the good, bad

Times Staff Writer

The highs and lows -- the joys and frustrations -- have already rippled through Elton Brand.

“It’s funny,” he said at Saturday’s practice. “I forgot how good a win feels and how bad a loss feels. You are always thinking after a loss I could have done this, could have done that to help the team win.”

He experienced both during the team’s recent trip. They were his first games after missing 74 because of a ruptured Achilles’ tendon, and tonight he will experience his home opener when the Clippers play the Houston Rockets at Staples Center.

It’s a debut that’s been long in the making.

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“I’ve been sitting over there with the fans [on the bench] the whole year, so to be on the court is a lot of fun,” Brand said.

And fun for the rest of the team, with Coach Mike Dunleavy conceding Saturday that had they been in the playoff hunt, Brand would have probably suited up three weeks ago.

But with that scenario long out of reach, the team took every precaution in Brand’s return.

Still, he is frequently asked why he returned at the tail end of a season from a serious injury to a team with no postseason hopes.

“I just feel like it’s my job,” he said. “If I’m healthy I’m going to come back. I’m going to go out and play. People say, ‘Hey, you may get hurt again.’ But I don’t feel like I’ll get hurt again. It’s 100%. If something happens, something happens. But that’s my job.”

Brand is averaging 17 points and seven rebounds in just over 26 minutes.

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Don’t count Chris Kaman out just yet.

Kaman reported improvement in his moderately sprained right ankle, enough so that his status was upgraded to questionable for tonight. It’s still unlikely he will play today. He did not practice Saturday, receiving treatment instead.

But it’s now conceivable he could return for a couple of games from an injury originally thought to have sidelined him for the season.

“I don’t think he should play if there’s anything where he’s not at a pretty high level,” Dunleavy said.

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Shaun Livingston is scheduled for another examination of his surgically repaired knee Monday in Alabama with Dr. James Andrews. . . . An MRI test on Tim Thomas’ sore Achilles’ tendons was negative. He is doubtful tonight but said he expects to practice Monday and may play Tuesday.

TONIGHT

vs. Houston Rockets, 6:30, Channel 5

Site -- Staples Center.

Radio -- 710.

Records -- Clippers 23-53, Rockets 51-25.

Record vs. Rockets -- 0-1.

Update -- The Rockets have won two games in a row but only five of their last 10.

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jonathan.abrams@latimes.com


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