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Wednesday, November 3, 2004

Simmons leads Clippers over Supersonics

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— Bobby Simmons stayed busy this summer, and it showed.

Simmons scored a career-high 30 points Wednesday night and the Los Angeles Clippers beat the Seattle SuperSonics 114-84 to win their season opener for the first time in eight years.

The victory also was the most lopsided in an opener in franchise history for the Clippers. Their previous biggest margin to start a season was a 133-112 win over Milwaukee in 1976, when the Clippers were the Buffalo Braves.

Simmons, who missed just two of his 15 shots, said he worked extremely hard during the offseason.

"As a player, you should work on everything, and that's what I did. I got a lot faster, got a lot stronger and trimmed down a little bit," said the 6-foot-6, 228-pound forward. "I put up a lot of shots every day, and putting in all the long hours has paid off for me."

Coach Mike Dunleavy obviously was pleased with the Clippers' play, and Simmons' in particular.

"You can't get more efficient than he was," Dunleavy said.

Los Angeles' Shaun Livingston, a 6-foot-7 rookie point guard taken out of high school with the fourth pick in the draft, played 16 minutes and had six points, five rebounds and three assists in his NBA debut.

He made his only three shots, sinking a couple of long jumpers and a reverse layup.

"I felt really good about Shaun out there," said Dunleavy, who yelled instructions to the 19-year-old when he was on the floor. "He was getting his feet wet and he gave us a good lift. I couldn't be more pleased."

Livingston enjoyed it.

"There were definitely butterflies, but you have to block it out and just worry about the gameplan and focus on what I bring to the table," Livingston said.

"I'm happy that coach Dunleavy has a lot of confidence in me. We're both excited to work with each other."

Elton Brand added 21 points, Corey Maggette 18 and Chris Wilcox 15 for Los Angeles, which opened the game with an 8-0 burst and stayed in front the rest of the way.

Rashard Lewis led Seattle with 24 points. Ray Allen and Vladimir Radmanovic added 20 points apiece.

In a matchup of teams that finished under .500 last season, the Clippers shot 63 percent while the Sonics managed only 37 percent.

"We just can't allow a team to shoot 65 percent from the field in the first half and end up shooting 63 percent for the game," Seattle coach Nate McMillan said. "It seemed as if they scored every time they came down the floor."

Simmons, starting in place of the injured Kerry Kittles, is beginning his fourth NBA season. His former career high of 24 points came in last year's season-ending loss to Seattle.

He was a second-round draft pick by the Sonics in 2001, the 42nd player taken, but was traded to Washington for the rights to Pedrag Drobnjak.

"It's nothing against Seattle," Simmons said. "It has nothing to do with the opponent because this is the NBA, and you just have to be ready at game time."

Los Angeles, which lost 14 of the last 15 last season to finish at 28-54, ended a six-game losing streak at the hands of the Sonics.

The Sonics were coming off a 37-45 campaign, their worst since 1984-85.

Notes: The crowd was 13,371, some 5,000 short of a sellout. ... The Clippers' Kittles (knee) and C Chris Kaman (ankle) opened the season on the injured list. Seattle was without C Vitaly Potapenko, on the injured list with a broken finger, and F Danny Fortson (back).

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