Elton Brand scored 10 of his 23 points during a 2:11 span of the fourth quarter and the Clippers got a boost from the return of point guard Marko Jaric as they ended a five-game overall skid with a 97-87 victory over Dallas on Monday.
“I really wanted to win this game—especially with the tough losses that we’ve had,” Brand said. “I felt I could have done more late in the game to win those, so I wanted to do something tonight. We know we’re good and we know we can play, so it was good to get this one against a quality opponent.”
All but one of the Clippers’ previous five defeats had come by six points or fewer, but Jaric made a big difference in his first game back after missing 17 with a stress fracture in his right foot. He had nine points in 23 minutes, including drilling consecutive 3-pointers during a 10-0 run in the second quarter.
“I just tried to put a little energy into the team, but my stamina wasn’t very good,” Jaric said. “I practiced individually the last seven days, but we never had time to practice five-on-five because we had a tough schedule. So, basically, I came straight into the game after being out a month and a half.”
The Clippers have dropped 28 of 31 meetings with the Lakers since 1997, including both encounters this season.
Corey Maggette, the Clippers’ leading scorer, has missed the last two games with a sore left foot. He will likely be a game-time decision Wednesday.
The Lakers had won three of their first four games without injured swingman Kobe Bryant before suffering a 104-93 setback to Seattle on Tuesday.
Bryant is eligible to come off the injured list before Wednesday night’s game, but isn’t expected to play before Feb. 6, when the Lakers travel to Houston for the opener of a five-game road trip.
The Lakers are the only NBA team with a winning record that hasn’t had a three-game winning streak this season. They have won two straight nine times, and haven’t lost more than two in a row.