- Jul 11, 2007
So far, the Indiana Pacers and Los Angeles Clippers are doing their best to put disappointing seasons behind them.
The two teams will put their perfect records on the line Wednesday when they square off at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
Indiana went just 35-47 last season and missed the playoffs for the first time since 1997. This season, however, the Pacers have won their first three games and are off to their best start since opening 4-0 in 2004-05.
"For a lot of us it's about pride," Pacers guard Mike Dunleavy said. "We all felt terrible about the way the season ended. ... This team has a sour taste in its mouth from last year, and I feel like we will keep it with us throughout the season."
Los Angeles, meanwhile, went 40-42 last season and also missed out on the postseason after making their first trip to the playoffs in nine seasons in 2005-06. The Clippers are 3-0 for the second time in three seasons but haven't won their first four games since going 5-0 in 1985-86, their second season in Los Angeles.
The Clippers have dropped three of their last four against the Pacers, but routed them 87-64 on March 3 in Los Angeles. The Pacers have won 13 of the last 14 meetings in Indiana.
Danny Granger has been a big part of Indiana's early surge, averaging 22.7 points and 8.7 rebounds and earning Eastern Conference player of the week honors on Monday. Granger, who has scored at least 20 points in each of Indiana's first three games, is the first Pacers player to win the award since Reggie Miller in April 2005.
Dunleavy, meanwhile, is averaging 22.3 points and a team-high 9.0 rebounds. He had 27 points in Indiana's 121-111 win in Memphis on Saturday. Granger chipped in 23 points for the Pacers, but first-year coach Jim O'Brien sees plenty of room for improvement.
"From a record standpoint, I'm very happy. The object is to win, we've played three games and have three Ws," he told the Pacers' official team Web site. "But in order to be a team that is constantly improving there are areas we have to clean up."
Dunleavy will be facing his father, Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy, for the 16th time. However, the guard sprained his left ankle in practice Monday and will be a game-time decision.
"It's starting to become routine," said the younger Dunleavy, who is 5-10 against his father. "I'm comfortable out there even if he is on the other sideline coaching. At first, it was a little weird but now it's gotten to be a little bit more normal and I can just play a normal game."
Cuttino Mobley scored 33 points in the Clippers' 97-91 win in Chicago on Tuesday, boosting his season average to a team-high 23.7 points. Corey Maggette, who is contributing 20.3 points per game, added 18, 10 rebounds and five assists.
Mobley averaged just 13.8 points last season, his lowest since averaging 9.9 in 49 games for Houston in his rookie season of 1998-99.
"I told the referees the first game, I've told y'all, I'll tell everyone I'm going back to my first five years," said Mobley. "I'm just going back to y old aggressive self. I'm only 32."