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The Gary Grant Report, volume 1.1

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Current Record: 2-1, T-2nd Pacific

Last Week: The Clippers rebounded from a disappointing opening-night loss to Phoenix by knocking off Denver and taking out the Suns in the rematch. Sam Cassell showed that he still has plenty of gas left in his tank at 37, leading the team in scoring and taking all of the big shots down the stretch. Newly acquired Tim Thomas displayed the same form he had in last year’s playoffs against the Lakers and Clippers, making clutch 3s and staying active on the glass.

Quick Take: So far, so good. Sam I Am is the man, but hopefully they’ll get more from Shawn Livingston so he doesn’t have to play quite as many minutes. The prodigy has looked a bit overmatched so far, struggling with his shot and facilitating the offense. Elton Brand needs to get more touches, as he has gone long stretches without any shots, despite hitting on better than 56% from the field. With so much quality talent deserving of minutes, Coach Dunleavy will have to continue to ride the hot hand and hope that winning cures any dissatisfaction over lack of playing time.

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This Week:

Monday: vs. Portland (PRIME, 7:30 pm) – after last year’s pathetic 21-win season, the Blazers are off to a surprisingly fast start at 2-1. Zach Randolph is leading the team in points, rebounds, and off-court arrests. Rookie swingman Brandon Roy looks like a legitimate star in the making, but the Blazers as a whole are low on talent while high on inexperience (and in Darius Miles’ case, high on other substances). Plan to bring your Aaron Williams jersey to the game since the Clippers bench should get some extra minutes with the game in hand by the early fourth quarter.

Wednesday: vs. Dallas (PRIME, 7:30 pm) – the Mavs seem to be suffering a hangover after their epic collapse in the NBA Finals last season against the Heat, laying an egg in their first two games. Picked by many experts, including yours truly, to win the Western Conference, the Mavs are getting the usual contributions from superstar Dirk Nowitzki and Josh Howard, but very little from the rest of the supporting cast, particularly on the defensive end. The Clips have a chance to make an early statement against one of the teams that finished ahead of them in the standings last year.

Sunday: vs. New Orleans/Oklahoma City (KTLA, 12:30 pm) – the Hornets were one of the feel-good stories of last season, staying in playoff contention for most of the year despite being displaced after Hurricane Katrina. They’ve continued their momentum as one of the three remaining undefeated teams. The Clippers will need to find a way to slow down stud point guard Chris Paul, who is the Hornets’ catalyst. Perhaps putting the Oakland Raider game on the Jumbotron will get the Hornets thinking about how to run a crappy offense.

AP photo by Jae C. Hong