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Looking for a good mix is an everyday challenge

Times Staff Writer

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Each night is a feeling-out process.

The Clippers have not hit on all cylinders too many times this season and it takes a while to see who may have the hot hand each game.

It could be Chris Kaman dominating the paint and rebounding one night then struggling through a haze of double teams the next. Tim Thomas lighting it up from three-point range in one game and then suddenly finding his shots awry. Or Al Thornton following a timid evening with a 20-point game.

All together, the inconsistency amounts to a debate each night and a process as the game develops of who should receive the most playing time, most touches and most scoring opportunities.

“A lot of teams kind of go through that,” Coach Mike Dunleavy said. “Certain nights, certain things are somewhat apparent because maybe you have what you perceive as a mismatch you can go to in the low post that forces somebody to double team or create shots for certain guys.

“There are other nights when you don’t have the apparent mismatch and you go through other stuff like pick-and-rolls and create advantages through screens.”

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Many teams have one dominant player that revs their offense, but for the Elton Brand-less Clippers, the search for consistency is a nightly struggle.

“It is a feeling-out process,” Dunleavy said. “The teams that are the better teams, every night you know. Every night you know Chris Paul is going to break you off the dribble and create. You know Jason Kidd, Tony Parker or Steve Nash and what they’ll do. Then you have guys who can overpower you in the paint at those positions.”

Sam Cassell explained a hard foul on New Orleans Hornets point guard Paul a day earlier, when he collared Paul as he went for a layup and assessed a flagrant foul.

“That wasn’t intentional, but I think they had to call it,” Cassell said. “He went up for a layup and I thought I had the block and he stuck his head under and when I came down, my momentum pulled me down and I couldn’t stop.

"[Official] Joey Crawford said he had to call it. He saw that Chris Paul did duck his head, but that’s how it goes.”

The Clippers have used 18 starting lineups in their 40 games.

The combination of Cassell, Thomas, Kaman, Quinton Ross and Corey Maggette has started the most times, including the last seven games.

Overall that unit is 5-6.

jonathan.abrams@latimes.com


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