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Sterling renews his faith in Dunleavy

Times Staff Writer

Clippers owner Donald T. Sterling voiced his renewed confidence in Coach Mike Dunleavy after the team’s double-overtime victory over the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday.

The pair held a phone conversation and a meeting Tuesday to clear the air after weeks of controversy surrounding the two.

Sterling in January sharply criticized Dunleavy, who responded with his own criticism of the organization. Since then, the two had not talked for weeks with Sterling not returning Dunleavy’s phone calls.

Sterling said Wednesday that his comments were out of frustration because his team was losing and he had never seriously considered firing Dunleavy.

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“Why would I fire him?” Sterling said. “He’s taken us as far as any coach. He has a lot of pride and the losing was tough on everybody.”

Sterling also said that the two did not talk frequently to begin with.

The comments are a sharp reversal from earlier when Sterling openly spoke of possible changes in the organization, starting with Dunleavy and Elgin Baylor, vice president of basketball operations. And the Boston Globe ran a story last weekend saying that Sterling had questioned why the players were not playing well under Dunleavy.

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Al Thornton and Dan Dickau paved the way, but forward Josh Powell also played an integral role in the Clippers’ win over the Kings.

Powell, an inactive player at the beginning of the season, played 51 minutes Wednesday with center Chris Kaman on restricted minutes.

Powell made a 10-foot jump shot near the end of the first overtime to tie the score, 97-97, and send it into a second overtime. He finished with 10 points and 11 rebounds for his first double-double.

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jonathan.abrams@latimes.com


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