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Even Raptors praise Odom after Clippers' win

3/17/2003

LOS ANGELES (AP) --Lamar Odom did his best Vince Carter
impersonation for the Los Angeles Clippers' home crowd.

Odom made a 17-foot jumper with 2.3 seconds left, and the
Clippers sent Carter and the Toronto Raptors to their fifth
straight loss Sunday night, 111-110.

"If I'm their team, I want the ball in his hands,'' Toronto's
Antonio Davis said of Odom. "I think he's very capable. He had
been hot all game, so you've got to give him the basketball. And he
came out and made a big play.''

Odom scored 26 points and Eric Piatkowski added 15 off the
bench, including a couple of clutch 3-pointers down the stretch, as
the Clippers improved to 2-6 since Dennis Johnson replaced Alvin
Gentry as coach on March 3.

Carter scored 28 points to lead the Raptors, while Antonio Davis
had 22 and Morris Peterson 20.

The Clippers were trailing by four and coming out of a timeout
when Piatkowski made a 3-pointer to cut Toronto's lead to 110-109
with 1:14 left. Carter missed a short jumper in traffic but made up
for it at the other end when he stood his ground against Odom -- who
tried to drive around Carter at the left baseline and fell out of
bounds with the ball.

Alvin Williams couldn't capitalize on the turnover, however,
missing a running jumper from the baseline. The Clippers' Cherokee
Parks grabbed the rebound, and Los Angeles called a 20-second
timeout.

Odom missed everything on a short running jumper down the lane,
but the ball went out of bounds off a Toronto player, giving the
Clippers one more chance. This time, Odom didn't miss.

"My team has stuck with me through all I've been through, so
there was no sense to give up on me now because I stepped out of
bounds and didn't make a play near the end of the game,'' Odom
said. "It shows the confidence my team has for me. I don't know
what feels better -- to hit the game-winning shot, or just to win a
close game at home.''

The Raptors got a good look after the ensuing inbounds pass from
Jerome Williams to Carter, but the All-Star guard missed a 20-foot
jumper over Odom at the buzzer. It would have been his second
winning buzzer-beater at Staples Center in three years.

"We tried to set a screen across the lane for Antonio Davis. I
thought he was open, but we had five seconds to get the ball in,''
Toronto coach Lenny Wilkens said. "We kept Vince up top to get the
ball as a release man. I thought he got a good look at it.''

Piatkowski's buzzer-beating 3-pointer from the right sideline
sent the Clippers into the fourth quarter with an 88-86 lead.

Piatkowski tied the score at 92 with a rare four-point play
after Voshon Lenard fouled him on a shot from behind the arc. The
Clippers went ahead 95-92 on three free throws by Piatkowski after
Wilkens got a technical foul for arguing a foul called against
Davis.

Peterson is the only player to appear in all 64 games for
Toronto during an injury-ravaged season that was preceded by two
consecutive playoff berths. The Raptors lead the league in players'
games lost with 405 and have yet to dress 12 players for a game.

"It's been a very difficult year. I've just never experienced a
season with that this many injuries -- and I've been in the league a
long time,'' Wilkens said. "To lose that many guys, and key
people, it just makes for a very hard year.''

The loss was Wilkens' 1,100th in the NBA. Six more defeats will
tie the league record, held by Bill Fitch.

"It doesn't bother me at all. I don't think much about it.,''
Wilkens said. "I mean, if people want to dwell on negatives, let
'em go ahead. I've accomplished a lot: I've won a gold medal, I've
won championships, so that don't detract from that.

"Hey, I can't make people healthy. If we didn't have the
injuries, we would have been close. Injuries are a part of the
game, and it's unfortunate that we had as many as we had. But it
doesn't take away from knowing the game.''

Game notes
Wilkens and Fitch both won NBA titles as coaches -- Wilkens
with Seattle and Fitch with Boston. ... Piatkowski's four-point
play was the first by a Clipper since March 29, 1998, when Darrick
Martin did it against Dallas at the L.A. Sports Arena. ... Despite
their fifth victory in 23 games, the Clippers are destined to
finish last in the Pacific Division for the seventh time in 10
seasons.