But that's all right with the four-year veteran, because he's
getting a chance now to establish himself as an NBA regular. And
with his ability, the Sonics may not be too far from being a
playoff team themselves.
Wilcox had nine points and eight rebounds to supplement Ray
Allen's 21 points, and Seattle ruined the Clippers' final
regular-season home game with a 114-98 rout on Sunday night.
"I just want to win, and that's better than me playing a great
game," Wilcox said. "I've been able to step up and do some of the
same things that I could have done if I was here, so this was a
great opportunity for me. I wasn't going to get the minutes here
because I was playing behind Elton Brand, and he's an All-Star. So
they found a spot where I could go and be successful."
Brand had 22 points and seven rebounds for Los Angeles, which
finished its home schedule with a 27-14 record -- the same as last
season. The loss prevented the Clippers from completing a four-game
season sweep, which would have been their first against Seattle.
Wilcox, who was picked by the Clippers eighth overall in the
2002 draft, played against his former teammates for the first time
since the Feb. 14 trade that sent him to Seattle in exchange for
Vladimir Radmanovic. Wilcox didn't play against them in Friday's
101-97 loss at Seattle because of a sprained right foot.
"He wasn't doing the Clippers any good sitting on their bench,
so it's better that they sent him to us so that we can use him to
get rebounds for us and be able to finish," Allen said.
"He's a great talent. I always hated playing against him
because he was always more athletic than our bigs. And if there was
a rebound opportunity, he always got it. But the way (Chris) Kaman
and Brand have played, it was tough for him to get minutes. So they
had the make the decision they made for the benefit of both
Radmanovic had eight points in 20 minutes for the Clippers, who
are 16-15 since the trade and are headed to the playoffs for the
first time since 1997. Seattle is 14-15 since acquiring Wilcox, and
will miss the postseason for the third time in four years.
"I think that since I left, they knew there was no more chance
for the playoffs," Radmanovic said. "They've been playing younger
players and trying to build the team up for next year. It's hard to
see that, but I'm really happy that I'm in the playoffs."
The Clippers' fourth loss in six games prevented them from tying
Memphis for the fifth seed in the Western Conference, and put them
a game behind the Grizzlies. Memphis holds the tiebreaker
advantage, having taken two of three in the season series.
A fifth-place finish would likely match the Clippers against the
Dallas Mavericks. By finishing sixth, the Clippers would play the
Denver Nuggets and would have home-court advantage over the
third-seeded champions of the Northwest Division -- having beaten
the Nuggets 3-1 in the season series.
Therefore, the winner of Tuesday night's Clippers-Memphis
contest could end up with a better chance of facing Dallas (60-21)
than Denver (44-36) in the first round.
"Dallas is a tough match for anybody, so whoever's sitting in
sixth is a lot better off than the team sitting in fifth," Kaman
said. "They're a beatable team, but we haven't beaten them this
"Obviously right now, Denver is probably a little bit easier
for us than Dallas, so we're happy with the sixth spot right now.
But I don't think anybody's going to do anything intentionally to
try and lose a game because there's too much pride in this
lockerroom. I think Mike is way too competitive for that. He gets
mad over the smallest detail on defense, so how could he ever be
Los Angeles used its 18th different starting lineup. Kaman was
scratched because of a sore left knee and Zeljko Rebraca made his
second start of the season in his place. Corey Maggette also was on
the inactive list with back spasms, as was Cuttino Mobley due to a
sore right ankle.
Despite this loss, April 16 has been a red-letter day in
Clippers history. They clinched a playoff berth on this date in
1992 and 1993 under Larry Brown. ... The Clippers (46-34) have the
fourth-best record of any team Mike Dunleavy has coached in the NBA
during his 13 seasons. His best regular season was in 1999-00, when
Portland finished 59-23. ... The Clippers' average home attendance
was 17,376, the second-highest in the franchise's 36-year history.
They averaged 18,053 in 2001-02, Brand's first season with the
team. ... The Clippers are 145-141 at Staples Center since the
building opened in October 1999. That doesn't count the 3-11 mark
they've had when the Lakers were the designated home team.