L.A. Clippers 101, Denver 83
LOS ANGELES, May 1 (Ticker) --
The Los Angeles Clippers are headed to
Cuttino Mobley and Corey Maggette scored 23 points apiece as the
Clippers advanced out of the first round of the playoffs for
the first time in 30 years with a 101-83 victory over the Denver
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In closing out the Western Conference encounter in five games,
the sixth-seeded Clippers have made it out of the opening round
for the first time since 1976, when the franchise was known as
the Buffalo Braves.
"Obviously for us, it is a great day," Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy said. "Our guys came out focused but Denver made a hard
run at us. They fought the whole way. Fortunately for us, we
kept coming and broke it open in the second half. Our guys did a
great job defensively."
"This is absolutely satisfying," Clippers forward Elton Brand
said. "It's like vindication because we worked so hard and this
organization didn't give up. We definitely have the confidence
to go out there, advance again and keep going. We feel we can
beat every team out there."
The Clippers had struggled mightily since the
franchise moved to California in 1978. But behind Brand and a
core of veterans that includes Mobley and Sam Cassell, the
outlook for the once-maligned franchise has changed.
"Everything worked well," Cassell said. "We are deep. And it is
so pleasant for me to sit on the bench and only play 24 minutes
per night and my ballclub is still in the game. All that added
rest I can get in the early round fits me perfectly."
"The fans were the X factor in this series," Maggette said.
"This is Elton's and my first playoff series and we were still a
little nervous out there, but the fans gave us support and we
were out there pushing and playing hard."
An eight-year veteran who is in his first year with the team,
Mobley paced five players in double figures Monday as the
Clippers closed out the disappointing and third-seeded Nuggets,
who struggled to find offense throughout the series.
"Tonight, we just went hard at them and attacked them," Mobley
said. "The more you attack a team, they are not going to keep
fighting back. They will fold. When you are down, 3-1, you are
thinking it's time to give up and we just kept after them."
The Clippers displayed their maturity and a killer instinct,
using a 16-3 run over the final 5:50 of the third quarter to
open a 71-57 lead.
Mobley's basket with 6:11 remaining in the contest gave the
Clippers their biggest lead at 88-63. The Nuggets used a 16-4
run in less than four minutes but could get no closer.
Brand had 21 points and 13 rebounds and Shaun Livingston handed
out 14 assists for the Clippers, who will meet either
second-seeded Phoenix or the archrival and seventh-seeded Los
Angeles Lakers in the conference semifinals.
"We are proud of what we have done," Brand said. "But we have
loftier goals so we have to stay focused. This is a great
feeling. I might not appreciate it until we start the second
round, but it (has) been 30 years in the making. The fans really
supported us so it feels good. We're trying to start our own
tradition and win some more playoff games."
Carmelo Anthony scored 23 points and Greg Buckner 20 for the
Nuggets, who shot 37 percent (34-of-92). Denver shot less than
40 percent in four of the five games in the series.
"We lost the first two games," Anthony said. "And I think that
shot our confidence a little bit. We won Game 3 at home and
gave one away in Game 4. It was kind of an embarrassing
After a disheartening 100-86 loss at home in Game 4 on
Saturday, the Nuggets came out feisty and held a 32-29 lead with
7:31 left in the first half on Buckner's 3-pointer.
But Mobley scored six points and Maggette five as the Clippers
closed the half on a 17-8 burst to take the lead for good.
"The pressure is on Sam and myself," Mobley said. "We came in to
give these guys some experience. We said, 'Not to be afraid,
take chances and not to be scared to make some mistakes.' Being
aggressive put Denver on their heels, which is a good thing."
"I feel like this team was made for the playoffs," Dunleavy
said. "We can match up with anybody and we can play any way. We
can go big or we can go small. We can play fast and we can play
slow. Whoever our opponent is, we can match up and defend them."