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The CW (Clipper Weekly), 8th Edition

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Current Record: 17-20, 4th Pacific, 10th West

Last Week: It started out with a bang, ended with a whimper. Sam Cassell made a triumphant return to the lineup, pouring in 31 points off the bench in helping the Clippers overcome a 13 point deficit to the depleted Hornets. Yeah, I’d say they were happy to have him back. The Clips then followed it up with a solid road win (yes, you read that correctly) over Minnesota, one of the other teams battling for the last two playoff spots. Corey Maggette, in spite of his trade distractions, buried the go-ahead jumper with 4.9 seconds left. With the positive momentum from finishing the road trip at 3-3, the Clips promptly laid an egg against Cleveland on Saturday night, leaving the home crowd grumbling and heading for the exits midway through the fourth quarter.

Quick Take: Last week was a microcosm of the Clippers’ season. The inability for the Clippers to play solid basketball for consistent stretches is maddening, considering the veterans that are on this team. It’s one thing to lose with your best effort, but it is very evident that the Clips simply lose focus with regularity. This season, 13 of their 20 losses are by double digits, suggesting that they’re not even competitive most of the time when they lose. There truly is no excuse for that with the level of talent that is on the roster (even if the talent may have been overrated at the start of the year). Mike Dunleavy is going with another new lineup, starting both Cassell and Shaun Livingston in the backcourt together and moving Cuttino Mobley to small forward, thus drastically reducing Quinton Ross’ minutes. He’s running out of combinations; there may just need to be some new blood to fire this team up.

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This Week:

Monday: at Golden St. (PRIME, 1:00 pm) – early tip in honor of the late Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, just for those of you who work for progressive employers (unfortunately the CW does not work for one of those). Granted, there are still 45 games left in the season, but this home-and-home with the Warriors does have significant implications on the positioning for the last couple of playoff spots; Golden St. is a half-game ahead in the standings. Yes, the Warriors haven’t actually made the playoffs nor finished over .500 since 1994, but Robin Williams hasn’t been funny since then either and he still keeps cranking out movies.

Wednesday: Golden St. (PRIME, 7:30 pm) - if you happen to be at Staples on Wednesday, you may have some flashbacks to the Lavin-era Bruins at Pauley. With Jason Richardson out with a broken hand, the Warriors are being led by UCLA alums Baron Davis and Matt Barnes, as well as dynamic guard Monta Ellis. Golden St. is back to playing Nellie ball, third in the league in scoring but last in scoring defense. Apparently, the Davis-Barnes-Ellis triumvirate is not quite as effective as the Run-TMC (Tim Hardaway, Mitch Richmond, and Chris Mullin for you youngsters) Warrior squads from Don Nelson's previous run as head coach.

Saturday: Memphis (KTLA-CW, 12:30 pm) - the Grizzlies are on a hot streak, having won three out of eight since interim coach Tony Barone took over for Mike Fratello, including a surprising win over the Lakers. Three out of eight may not seem hot to you, but after winning only six out of their first thirty, a .375 winning percentage is very exciting. Barone has instituted a more uptempo offense, which led to an impressive 66 point showing in their last game, a 45 point loss to the Bulls. The Clips have already beaten the Grizzlies twice this season, but both of those were without leading scorer Pau Gasol, who has since returned from his broken foot injury.

AP photo by Gus Ruelas