NBA Basketball: Seattle Soncis at Los Angeles Clippers - Clippers Favored

Team Page: Seattle :: Los Angeles

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Trying to earn back-to-back playoff berths for the first time in 14 years, the Los Angeles Clippers will be without one of their starters for the rest of the season.

The Clippers look to press on after the injury to point guard Shaun Livingston as they host the Seattle SuperSonics in the first game of a home-and-home series on Wednesday.

Oddsmakers have made Los Angeles -4 point spread favorites (NBA Odds) for todays game, the over/under has been set at 201.5 total

points (View NBA Sports Books).

After finishing with the fifth-best record in the Western Conference last season, Los Angeles (27-29) is in the mix for one of the final playoff spots. The Clippers have not made consecutive trips to the playoffs since 1991-92 and 1992-93.

Los Angeles beat Charlotte 100-93 on Monday to win back-to-back games, but the victory came with a price as Livingston left with a dislocated left knee cap. An MRI taken Tuesday revealed further damage as it was revealed Livingston tore three of the four ligaments in his knee and had a dislocated patella.

``It's probably the most serious injury you can have to the knee,'' said Clippers physician Dr. Tony Daly, who estimated Livingston could miss anywhere from eight to 12 months. ``He might miss all of next year.''

Livingston, the fourth overall pick in the 2004 draft out of high school, was injured in the first quarter while driving to the basket on a fast break. He missed a layup, landed awkwardly, then crumpled to the floor in obvious pain before being wheeled off the court on a stretcher.

"He was playing well,'' Clippers forward Elton Brand said. "After he got injured, it was on the back of everyone's mind. We wanted to pull it out, even though it was a downer with Shaun going down the way he did.''

Livingston made 31 starts this season, and his season-ending injury will almost certainly lead to an increase in playing time for Sam Cassell. The 37-year-old Cassell has been sharing the point guard duties with Livingston, and finished with 14 points against the Bobcats after averaging just 4.8 points in his previous four games.

Against the SuperSonics (22-34) this season, Cassell has scored 34 points and made all five of his attempts from 3-point range as the Clippers have split the first two meetings.

Los Angeles lost to Seattle 95-85 at home on Nov. 22, and has lost two straight, and seven of its last 10 at the Staples Center against the Sonics.

Seattle has lost two straight road games, though, and 17 of its last 19 away from KeyArena.

Brand was held to a season-low seven points and shot just 3-of-12 from the field in the November loss to the Sonics, but scored 22 while making 11 of 15 attempts in their 98-76 win on Jan. 28.

Brand had 14 points and 12 rebounds on Monday, and is averaging 20.7 points and 9.7 boards in his last three games after missing the previous two with back spasms.

Seattle defeated Portland 97-73 on Monday for its fourth win in the last six games.

Rashard Lewis went 10-for-18 from the field and finished with 29 points after scoring 28 while making only 11 of 32 shots in his last two games.

"I thought everybody played awfully well. I thought Rashard was pretty special, his concentration and focus,'' coach Bob Hill said.

While Lewis broke out of his slump against the Trail Blazers, Ray Allen had his second straight sub-par performance.

Allen had 16 points on Monday, and has gone just 10-for-33 from the field while averaging 14.0 points in his last two games after averaging 30.6 points in his previous 10.

Allen finished with a pedestrian 23 points in Seattle's win at the Staples Center in November, while Lewis had 35 and 13 rebounds.

These teams conclude their season series with the second game of the home-and-home series Thursday at KeyArena.

By: Marc Young - - Email Us

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