CLIPPERS NOTEBOOK: PIATKOWSKI A COOL LEADER.
On a team of flashy, young up-and-comers, veteran guard Eric Piatkowski sometimes gets lost in the shuffle when talking about the Clippers. But down the stretch, it is the wily Piatkowski who has been one of the most consistent and poised Clippers.
On Tuesday in Sacramento, Piatkowski was 5 of 5 from the field and scored 15 points. Over the past four games, he has averaged 13.7 points and has hit 11 of 18 (61 percent) from 3-point range.
What might be more important than his scoring is that Piatkowski, a nine-year veteran, arguably has kept his composure better than any other Clipper. While a few players have bickered among themselves and others have had inconsistent games, he's been an emotional rock.
``There were times where we let our emotions get a hold of us,'' Piatkowski said. ``And we have to keep it together.''
For most of the season, Piatkowski has shared the shooting-guard duties with Quentin Richardson, who appears to be the leading candidate for the Sixth Man of the Year award. Over the past several games, the Clippers have used a lineup with Piatkowski and Richardson playing at the same time.
--Maggette back? There is a possibility Corey Maggette will be taken off the injured list today and be thrust into the starting lineup at small forward. Maggette has been out since Feb. 23 with dislocated bones in his right hand. While he was out, he had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee.
Maggette said Sunday he was ready to play, but the team has kept him out because he hasn't had ample practice time. If Maggette is cleared, Tremaine Fowlkes likely would go into a reserve role, and Harold Jamison would be the leading candidate to go on the injured list.
--Math against Clips: With 10 games left, the Clippers are not mathematically eliminated from their quest for the eighth - and final - playoff spot in the West. However, the numbers are against them.
For most of the second half of the season, coach Alvin Gentry has estimated the Clippers (36-36) would need 45 victories to make the playoffs. If that holds, they'll have to finish the season 9-1.
Going into Thursday night, Utah was 3 1/2 games ahead of the Clippers for the final spot. Even if the Clippers beat the Jazz in their meetings Saturday and Wednesday, Utah (39-32, not counting the Cleveland game) still would have to help the Clippers with some losses.
Regardless of the playoff scenario, the season appears to be a success. Despite having the league's lowest payroll, the Clippers have a chance at a winning record. They've had just one winning season (1991-92) since moving to Los Angeles in 1984.
CLIPPERS vs. PHOENIX
Tipoff: 6 p.m. at America West Arena.
TV/Radio: KSPN-AM (1110).
Clippers (36-36) update: On a three-game losing streak, the Clippers have lost four in a row only once this season, during a road trip in January. They need a victory to stay close to Utah for the final playoff spot in the West. The Clippers are 2-1 against the Suns, but they lost Saturday to them 97-94. The Clippers only scored 13 points in the first quarter. Shawn Marion scored 31 points for Phoenix.
Phoenix (32-38) update: The Suns have won two consecutive games, including their 118-106 victory over the Lakers on Thursday. Marion had another outstanding game with 32 points and 18 rebounds. Even center Jake Tsakalidis had an excellent game, shooting 8 of 11 for 19 points and 10 rebounds.
- Joe Stevens
CLIPPERS vs. PHOENIX (see text)
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|Publication:||Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)|
|Date:||Mar 29, 2002|
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