Thursday, December 23, 2004

Brunson, Clippers Run Past Hornets in Overtime

In a matchup of two depleted clubs, the Los Angeles Clippers needed a boost to survive at home. Rick Brunson was happy to provide that boost.

After losing a big second-half lead, the Clippers got 11 points from Brunson in overtime and 30 overall from Bobby Simmons to snap a five-game losing streak with a 100-91 victory over the New Orleans Hornets.

"The overtime was big for me because I thought I'd cost us the win with that turnover at the end of the game," said Brunson, who threw the ball away on Los Angeles' last possession in regulation.

"I thought I did a terrible job of getting us into good offensive sets towards the end of the game. It meant a lot to redeem myself."

Playing without leading scorer Corey Maggette (left groin) and point guard Marko Jaric (sprained foot), the Clippers lost fill-in starter Quinton Ross to a hip pointer early and could not shake the equally thin Hornets, despite taking a 24-9 lead after one quarter.

Los Angeles lost a 21-point second-half lead and were forced to play overtime when New Orleans forward P.J. Brown hit three jumpers in the final 2:23 of regulation, including a 19-footer with four seconds left to tie the game at 81-81.

Brunson set the tone just 43 seconds into the extra session with a long 3-pointer to give the Clippers the lead for good. After Elton Brand and Simmons both had a basket to stretch Los Angeles' lead to 88-83, Brunson put away the game with back-to-back 3-pointers and a pair of free throws in the next 1:13.

"Brunson really stepped up," Brand said. "We knew he could. That's why our coach went with him to start."

Brunson notched season highs with 18 points and 10 assists in his first start with the Clippers. Brand added 23 and 13 rebounds as Los Angeles earned its first win since December 6 vs. Charlotte, a 99-93 triumph.

Lionel Chalmers, a rookie who had not played more than 13 minutes this season, played 44 on Tuesday, setting highs with eight points and six assists.

"We're just happy with win," Brand added. "We'll get to the films and see what happened. We shouldn't be up 21 and get into overtime. We didn't execute defensively or offensively. That's what happened. We let (Hornets guard David Wesley) get hot on us and it hurt us. We didn't have the same effort and intensity that we've had in a close ball game."

Despite taking the large lead early, Los Angeles was unable to shake New Orleans, which had five of its own players on the injured list and was without guard Junior Harrington in the second half because of a right knee bruise.

"We have kind of gotten over the series of injuries we've had because it's been going on so long," Hornets forward P.J. Brown said. "The guys that are here know we just have to play much harder than we played tonight."

Wesley scored 10 straight points for the Hornets and 12 total during a 19-3 run to close the third quarter. Dan Dickau's 3-pointer with 1.3 seconds left capped the surge and cut the deficit to 65-62.

"I just got into a rhythm at the right time," Wesley said. "I had good opportunities from running the floor. I was really being aggressive taking some shots that normally I wouldn't take in this offense. At that point we were just being aggressive and trying to find out how to get back in this game."

Wesley scored 22 points, Lee Nailon added 21 and Chris Andersen had a career-high 18 rebounds in his first start for New Orleans.

"We haven't had a whole lot of success in overtime games," Wesley said. "It was disappointing to come back that far and not win."

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Clippers Knocked by Jazz

A team-leading 28-point effort from Corey Maggette wasn't quite enough as the Clippers lost a seesaw battle, 93-91 to the Jazz on Tuesday. A dunk by Mikki Moore with seconds remaining brought the Clippers within a point, but the Jazz sealed the victory from the charity stripe. Elton Brand went 11-of-12 from the free throw line on his way to a 19-point effort, while Marko Jaric added 18 points and a team-best 6 assists. Los Angeles travels to Minnesota on Friday before heading home to STAPLES Center.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Clipper drop Bobcats in Double OT

The Los Angeles Clippers started taking the expansion Bobcats seriously just in time to eke out a victory.

Corey Maggette scored four of his 33 points in the second overtime and the Clippers survived the fourth-quarter ejection of Elton Brand to beat Charlotte 99-93 Monday night.

"We were having a problem finding motivation against those guys," point guard Marko Jaric said. "They played an excellent game. We started out very slow and very, very lazy, and we have to understand that we are not the kind of team that can play that kind of basketball."

It was the first overtime win in four tries this season for the Clippers. After tying his career high with 34 points in Saturday's OT loss to Minnesota, Maggette pulled out this win, going 4-of-4 from the free throw line in the second extra session.

Brand, held to a season-low 10 points Saturday, finished with 19 points to help the Clippers win for the sixth time in seven games. Jaric, who had 10 assists, already has five double-digit assists games -- two more than all of last season.

Jason Kapono and Primoz Brezec each had 14 points for the Bobcats, who played without Gerald Wallace (concussion) and Jahidi White (right shoulder strain). They have won four of their first 15 games, but are 0-7 on the road.

"We've certainly got things in perspective, in terms of where we are and what we've got to do," coach Bernie Bickerstaff said. "We've won four games, and the predictions were that we probably wouldn't win any. Everybody comes after us every night because they don't want to lose to us."

Charlotte rookie Emeka Okafor, who averaged 19.5 points and 12.6 rebounds over his previous six games, finished with 12 points and 15 boards.

Mikki Moore got the Clippers started in the second extra period with a dunk with 4:36 remaining. No one else scored until Maggette sank two free throws with 1:30 left for a four-point lead. Kapono hit a 17-footer at the other end, but Chris Kaman responded for the Clippers with a layup that gave them a 95-91 lead with 56 seconds to play.

Okafor made it a two-point game with a pair of free throws, but Simmons followed with a fadeaway 19-footer from the right baseline with 10.4 seconds remaining and Maggette added two free throws.

Moore's layup tied it at 85 with 2:05 left in the first overtime, triggering a 6-0 spurt by the Clippers that ended with two jumpers by Maggette.

But Kapono hit a baseline jumper and Brevin Knight drove coast to coast for the tying layup with 11.4 seconds on the clock after stripping the ball clean from Maggette.

The Bobcats missed nine of their first 10 shots in the fourth quarter and the Clippers ran off eight straight points to turn a five-point deficit into a 71-68 lead with 6:22 left in regulation.

Keith Bogans and Kapono responded with 3-pointers 10 seconds apart, ending Charlotte's scoring drought and giving the Bobcats a 74-71 edge.

On the next possession, Brand took exception to Okafur's defense and responded with an uncharacteristic flagrant foul that earned him two technical fouls and an ejection with 3:28 remaining.

"It was just a push," Brand said. "It was frustration from getting tangled up. I wasn't trying to start a fight or a melee or anything. I was just trying to break away. But the league is definitely cracking down on anything that goes on. I was having a pretty good fourth quarter, so it was very difficult to watch after that."

After Maggette's two free throws with 29 seconds left tied it at 79, both teams blew chances to win it. Knight missed a 13-footer from the lane and Jaric missed a layup as the buzzer sounded.

The Clippers improved to 11-7, including the three overtime losses.

"I'm happy for their success," said Bobcats forward Melvin Ely, who spent his first two NBA seasons with the Clippers before being traded to the Bobcats.

"Anything is possible when you're got players like Elton Brand and Corey Maggette," Ely added. "And now they've got Chris Wilcox playing to his potential and Bobby Simmons also playing well. So it's not surprising at all."

Monday, November 29, 2004

Simmons, Brand Lead Clippers


After losing Corey Maggette early in the second half, the Los Angeles Clippers got a boost from a pair of unlikely sources.

Quinton Ross scored a career-high 14 points and Rick Brunson added 12 off the bench as the Clippers posted a 98-87 victory over the Golden State Warriors.

Maggette, who leads Los Angeles in scoring at 18.5 points per game, twisted his left ankle with 53 seconds remaining in the first quarter trying to defend a 3-pointer from Mickael Pietrus. He sat out the second quarter and left the game after playing only three minutes in the third.

"With Corey going down with a sprained ankle and being quite shorthanded, we had great play from our bench," Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy Sr. said. "Quentin Ross was great, Rick Brunson was great, everybody came in and gave us a nice lift.

After X-rays, Maggette was diagnosed with a mild sprain and is listed as day-to-day.

"He tried to gut it out but I didn't think it was worth it, he could really hurt himself out there and I didn't want to risk any further injury," Dunleavy said.

Ross and Brunson, who entered the contest averaging 5.7 points per game between them, made sure Los Angeles did not miss a beat.

"It was great," said Clippers forward Bobby Simmons, who scored 17 points and had a career-high 12 rebounds. "That's what we're going to need as far as when someone else goes down we need guys to step up and fortunately those guys came in and did a great job for us tonight. Ross made a lot of great shots, a lot of open shots and Brunson ran the floor for us."

Ross hit 7-of-9 shots from the floor, playing largely in place of Maggette, who finished with 11 points. "We play hard," Ross said. "We try to play hard defensively, try to get stops and try to rebound the ball. We try to be in the right spots defensively on the floor and we forced them into some difficult shots."

Brunson shined down the stretch, scoring all his points in the final period. He made 6-of-7 shots, handed out four assists and made a pair of steals in just 18 minutes.

"I just thought tonight was a typical night on a back-to-back," Brunson said. "We had a lot of guys with little energy on the first team and I just thought the second unit came in and provided energy."

"Rick is really solid and he can shoot the ball and he just did a great job of executing our stuff," Dunleavy said. "He was just terrific at running the offense too, orchestrating and delivering the ball."

Elton Brand added 17 points as the Clippers moved above .500 after 13 games for the first time in eight seasons. Los Angeles has won 12 of its last 15 road games against Golden State.

"We're really not trying to make a statement, we're just trying to do what's best for the Clippers and I think as a team we have to realize we're trying to win every game," Brunson said. "We're trying to win every game with confidence. It's too early to make statements, this isn't college football where you play 10 or 11 games, we've got 82 games."

Speedy Claxton scored 22 points for the Warriors. He made 6-of-8 shots but his teammates made just 26-of-74 (35 percent).

"It's getting a little frustrating, nobody likes losing," Claxton said. "This is an important game for us, we could've picked up some ground. We played these guys earlier in the year and we let them kind of hand it to us and it was the same kind of way tonight. We've just got to find some kind of way to buckle down."

Golden State also struggled from 3-point range making just 4-of-18 shots (22 percent), including the starters going 0-for-9.

"We've got to quit settling for 3-point shots," Warriors coach Mike Montgomery said. "We've got to run offensively, more disciplined and not settle for the first open look we get. We're shooting the ball as if that's going to be our savior. We don't have a low-post game but we've got to establish some kind of presence in the paint so we can work off of it."

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Clippers Start Slow, Finish Strong


The Chicago Bulls got off to a quick start but could not slow Marko Jaric and Chris Wilcox in the second half.

Jaric scored 17 of his season-high 19 points in the second half and Wilcox had 10 points and eight rebounds after halftime as the Los Angeles Clippers erased an early 24-point deficit en route to a 97-96 triumph over the winless Bulls.

Chicago seemed headed for its first win in four games this season, holding a 49-25 lead with 6 1/2 minutes to go in the second quarter. But Bobby Simmons ignited a 23-5 burst with three straight points and fellow Chicago native Corey Maggette had nine of his 23 points in the run.

With the Clippers down, 54-48, at the half, Jaric and Wilcox took over in the third quarter. The duo combined for all the points in a 9-2 spurt that put Los Angeles on top, 69-67, with 2:55 left.

"(Jaric) banged out shots and got us back into it," Los Angeles coach Mike Dunleavy said. "We talked about having better spacing to our low post. We were clogging it up too much. We did and (Jaric) was open. We moved the ball and got him shots and he made them."

"We came out a little slow but picked ourselves up in the second quarter," Wilcox said. "We had to come together as a team and started passing the ball around and take good shots. The shots started falling for us. That is what we needed to do along."

Jaric had been in a shooting slump, entering the game 13-for-37 from the field. But he scored 13 points in the third, missing just one of five shots.

Bulls coach Scott Skiles was sure the Clippers would rally.

"I would have been shocked if they had not come back," Skiles said. "To have them come all the way back, that is a different thing. You have to expect them to make a run at some point."

"It is very frustrating," Bulls center Eddy Curry said. "Even though they came all the way back, we never gave up. We just didn't have enough to get over the hill."

The Clippers opened a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter and withstood a late rally that included Kirk Hinrich's 3-pointer at the buzzer.

Curry, playing in just his second game after a two-game league suspension, had 20 points and 11 rebounds for the Bulls. Tyson Chandler added 17 and 13 - both season highs - making 6-of-7 shots.

Los Angeles won twice on its three-game road trip and bounced back from a listless 110-96 loss at New York on Friday. The Clippers have won four of their last five games at the United Center.

Chicago begins a seven-game road trip - its longest of the season - Tuesday in Sacramento.

Rookie Shaun Livingston, who attended high school in Peoria, went scoreless in 11 minutes.

Chicago led, 53-36, with 3 1/2 minutes left in the half when Maggette had two free throws to ignite a 12-1 burst that closed the half.

Sunday, October 31, 2004

Getting Close

The Clippers played well enough to hold a slim 51-50 halftime lead over Phoenix on Thursday night, but were blitzed 39-17 in the third quarter en route to a 109-88 loss. Bobby Simmons wrapped up a strong preseason with 19 points, while Corey Maggette chipped in with 18 of his own. Elton Brand and Chris Wilcox tied for team rebounding honors with 9, and scored 11 and 14 points respectively. Next up for Los Angeles is their 2004-05 season opener against Seattle on Wednesday.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

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