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."
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