Tuesday , May , 02 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

Clippers rout Nuggets; win first playoff series in 30 years

Los Angeles, CA (Sports Network) – Cuttino Mobley and Corey Maggette each
scored 23 points, as the Clippers franchise won a playoff series for the first
time in 30 years by routing Denver, 101-83, in Game 5 of their Western
Conference quarterfinal set.

Elton Brand dominated the middle with 21 points and 13 rebounds for Los
Angeles, as the franchise captured a postseason series for the first time
since the Buffalo Braves defeated the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round of
the 1976 playoffs.

Until Monday, that marked the only series victory for a team that moved to San
Diego in 1978 and to its current home in Los Angeles in 1984. The Clippers
were eliminated in the opening round in 1992, 1993 and 1997 and the Braves
lost in the first round in 1974 and ’75 before winning in ’76 and then losing
in the Eastern Conference semifinals to Boston.

“It’s a tremendous accomplishment,” Clippers head coach Mike Dunleavy said.
“It’s been a long time since this has happened. For me, it’s the vision I’ve
had.”

Sam Cassell and Chris Kaman each contributed 10 points and seven rebounds,
while Shaun Livingston had 14 assists for the sixth-seeded Clippers, who had
homecourt advantage because of a better overall record. The Clippers could be
playing all their games in the conference semifinals at the Staples Center.
They will take on either the seventh-seeded Lakers or second-seeded Phoenix
Suns in the next round, but the Lakers hold a 3-1 lead in that set with Game 5
set for Tuesday night.

Once regarded as the laughingstock of the NBA with seven seasons of under 20
wins, Monday was the culmination of a remarkable turnaround that included a
15-67 mark in 2000.

For Brand and Maggette, the postseason series win is a long time coming. The
two have played together on the Clippers since 2001.

“We’ll soon reflect on how tough it was in the past and those years,” Brand
said. “We were young and grinding it out, and trying to get to the playoffs.
Right now, we’re enjoying the moment.”

Carmelo Anthony had 23 points for the third-seeded Nuggets, who won the
Northwest Division in the regular season, but could never get much going, only
winning Game 3 in Denver. Greg Buckner added 20 points and Andre Miller
totaled 15 points and eight assists.

The Nuggets were without forward Kenyon Martin, who was suspended for the
final three games of the series after complaining about his playing time.

“We needed Kenyon just as bad as we needed anybody,” Anthony said. “We just
had to go out and play basketball. I think they played a more team game than
we did.”

The Clippers scored the game’s first six points, but Denver rallied to lead
23-21 after the first quarter.

A 13-2 run boosted LA to a 42-34 advantage with under three minutes left in
the first half. It was 46-40 at the break, and the Clippers turned on the jets
in the third bridging into the early part of the fourth.

Denver was within 55-54 following an Anthony jumper with 6:58 left in the
third, but the Clippers closed the period on a 16-3 spurt and opened the
fourth with the first four points. A tip-in by Brand extended the margin to
75-57.

The lead soon reached 20 points, and back-to-back breakaway jams from Brand
and Mobley made it a 25-point contest midway through the period.

“This game was a lot closer than the score indicates,” Dunleavy said. “We hit
a stretch at the right time when we broke it open. Up until that point, it was
going back and forth.”

Game Notes

Nuggets forward Reggie Evans was fined $10,000 by the NBA on Monday and
assessed a flagrant foul penalty two for making excessive contact on Kaman in
Game 4…Marcus Camby had 11 rebounds for Denver, while teammate Earl Boykins
scored 11…The Clippers shot 50 percent to 37 percent for Denver…Anthony
was 8-of-24 from the field.

DEN LAC