Clippers 92, Hornets 76

Sunday, November 12th 2006, 6:18 pm
By: News On 6

LOS ANGELES (AP) The Los Angeles Clippers' stifling defense made it another ugly visit to Staples Center for the New Orleans Hornets.

Elton Brand had 22 points and 10 rebounds and five other players scored in double figures for the Clippers, who forced the Hornets into 26 turnovers in Sunday's 92-76 victory.

New Orleans has dropped 5 straight to the Clippers in Los Angeles, including a humiliating 89-67 defeat on March 21st in which they scored an NBA record-low 16 points in the 2nd half. Hornets missed 21 consecutive shots in that game, had only one field goal over the final 20 minutes and were outscored 25-0 during one stretch.

``I'm sure they remembered that horror show, so they really showed some resilience on their end today by fighting hard and coming back,'' Brand said. ``But we didn't fold. We wanted to get that win. You've got to protect your homecourt. You've got to send a message to other teams that it's going to be tough to win at Staples Center, especially when you play the Clippers.''

The Lakers' co-tenants have won 5 straight, all at home, since losing at Phoenix on opening night. They also won their first 5 home games last season and finished 27-14 at Staples.

The Hornets, who blew a 27 point lead in Friday's 92-91 loss at Portland, have lost three straight after starting out 4-0 for the first time in the franchise's 19-year history.

``I don't have a problem losing games,'' coach Byron Scott said. ``I mean, I hate losing, but it's like when I was a player. If I knew I gave everything I had out there and played like it was the last game I ever played, then I could look at myself in the mirror and say `Hey, they were just better than us that night.' But right now, we're not giving ourselves a chance. And that's very disheartening.''

The Clippers converted the Hornets' turnovers into 24 points. They turned the ball over 15 times themselves, and have had fewer than their opponents in every game so far.

New Orleans had 12 turnovers in the 1st quarter, including 2 shot-clock violations 47 seconds apart. Reserve forward Cedric Simmons coughed up the ball 3 times during a span of 70 seconds after replacing Tyson Chandler, who picked up 2 fouls in the first 6 1/2 minutes.

``I don't think a whole lot of it was the Clippers,'' Scott said. ``I mean, I love the talent they have over there. They have an excellent basketball team and they're very well coached by Mike Dunleavy, but they're not a pressure team. They're not trapping us full-court. They're not double-teaming. We're just throwing the ball away.''

Point guard Chris Paul, held to a season-low 12 points Friday at Portland, made his first 5 shots and finished with 20 for New Orleans. Chandler had 13 rebounds and 8 points.

Down by 13 with 7 minutes left in the 3rd quarter, the Hornets used a 9-0 run to slice the margin to 62-58 with 4:18 left in the period. They got as close as 66-64 just before the end of the 3rd on a pair of free throws by Bobby Jackson, but weren't able to take the lead.

Los Angeles ran off 8 straight points early in the 4th to restore their double-digit margin and trigger a decisive 20-5 run that put the Clippers ahead 88-71 with 1:51 to play.

``We just executed what we needed to do,'' Sam Cassell said. ``I wouldn't say we wore them down because they're a heck of a team. They put you in awkward situations and give you some difficult matchups, with Chris Paul's penetration and Peja Stojakovic out there shooting the long ball.''