Chris Kaman Returns to Lead Clippers Over Nets 106-95

LOS ANGELES — Chris Kaman had 22
points and seven rebounds in his return to the lineup, and the Los
Angeles Clippers snapped a four-game skid with an easy 106-95 victory
over the downtrodden New Jersey Nets on Monday.

Kaman, who missed the previous four
games with a sore lower back after being the only Clipper to play in
each of the first 35 contests, played 30 minutes and made 10 of 16
shots. Marcus Camby had 17 points and 14 rebounds, and Craig Smith
added 18 points off the bench.

The Clippers shot 55.6 percent,
improving to 10-4 when they're at 50 percent or better. Point guard
Baron Davis had nine points and nine assists before sitting out the
fourth quarter.

Brook Lopez, the only Nets player to
start and play in all 40 games, had 23 points and eight rebounds and
reserve Kris Humphries had a career-high 21 points. Lopez started the
day averaging 18.8 points, third in the NBA among centers. Kaman came
in averaging 20.4 points.

The Nets, a league-worst 3-37, have
started a calendar year 0-8 for the first time since 1981 under interim
coach Bob MacKinnon. The franchise record in that department is 0-11
under Kevin Loughery in 1977, their first season following the NBA-ABA
merger. They also started 1991 with an 0-7 mark.

New Jersey has to win seven of its
remaining 42 games to avoid tying the 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers' 9-73
record for the worst in NBA history. That may not be as easy as it
sounds.

The Nets are 3-20 since general
manager Kiki Vandeweghe added head coach to his job duties after
Lawrence Frank was fired on Nov. 29. All three wins have come against
Eastern Conference teams with losing records. They have lost 26
consecutive games against Western Conference clubs since beating Denver
114-70 on Feb. 7, 2009, at the Meadowlands for the second-biggest
winning margin in franchise history.

After losing by 40 points to the
defending NBA champion Lakers and one point to Eastern
Conference-leading Cleveland in their previous two games, the Clippers
finally got a cupcake. They never trailed, building a 15-point lead on
Smith's dunk with 3:21 left in the first quarter and shooting 61
percent from the field in the first half to take a 61-41 advantage at
intermission.

The Nets missed 10 of their first 14
shots and finished at 45.8 percent from the field en route to their
eighth wire-to-wire defeat this season. They never got closer than 11
points (with 45 seconds remaining), after Eric Gordon's layup gave the
Clippers their biggest lead, 90-66, with 11:44 left.

Yi Jianlian scored nine of his 13 points in the final 3:38 for New Jersey and was 3 for 13 from the field.

The Clippers have beaten the Nets
the last six times they have met at Staples Center. After this
four-game western swing, which includes stops in Phoenix, Golden State
and Utah, New Jersey will return home for a rematch with the Clippers
on Jan. 27.

Notes
Since the start of the
2007-08 season, the Clippers are 15-65 when Kaman isn't in the lineup,
and 45-79 when he is. … Vandeweghe said before the game that
assistant coach Tom Barrise would become a special assistant to club
president Rod Thorn, and that associate coach-advance scout Jimmy Sann
would replace him on the bench. Sann originally joined the coaching
staff during 2005-06 season. Barrise's main responsibility will be to
scout college players on a regular basis. "That was really Rod's
decision," Vandeweghe said. "Scouting is paramount for us, and Tom is a
very talented scout and talent evaluator. We have three of the top 35
picks in the draft, so it's a big draft year for us and an important
free agent year. Jimmy will be coaching and working with guys, but he's
also really good at player development and will take up that role." …
Vandeweghe spent the final season of his 13-year playing career with
the Clippers in 1992-93 under Larry Brown, but was limited to 41 games
because of back problems. It was one of only four seasons in which the
Clippers have made the playoffs since moving from San Diego to Los
Angeles in 1984-85.

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