The point guard tries to give the Clippers their first 2-0 start in 15 years when they host the Atlanta Hawks.
Los Angeles acquired Cassell from Minnesota in the offseason, giving the young team veteran guidance. The 12-year pro showed that leadership Wednesday, scoring 15 of his 37 points in the fourth quarter to rally Los Angeles past Seattle 101-93.
He made three 3-pointers in the final five minutes as the Clippers erased a 13-point deficit in the final 12 minutes.
“Like I was saying the whole training camp, this is not going to be the old Clipper team from the past,” Cassell said. “We’re going to play hard for 48 minutes. … We executed when we needed to down the stretch and we made shots.”
The veteran also got his teammates involved and finished with 11 assists. Rookie forward James Singleton added 14 points and 10 rebounds off the bench, including eight and six in the fourth quarter.
“We wanted it more. We just kept playing hard no matter how many points we were down,” said Singleton, who played the last two seasons in Italy.
The Clippers, who have not started 2-0 since the 1990-91 season, have won four straight against the Hawks—their longest active winning streak against Eastern Conference opponents.
Atlanta has plenty of room for improvement after a 122-97 road defeat to Golden State on Wednesday. The Hawks played well for a half but allowed 75 second-half points.
“Everyone struggled to make plays with the basketball,” Hawks coach Mike Woodson said. “That kind of takes the starch out of your offense.”
Joe Johnson scored 17 points in his Hawks debut but none came in the second and third quarters. Forward Marvin Williams, the second overall pick in June’s draft, had 12 points and six rebounds in 25 minutes.
“We were just inexperienced,” said Johnson, who was acquired from the Phoenix Suns in the offseason. “We had a nice lead, and when they started making their run, everybody was trying to do it themselves instead of sticking with the game plan. … We were inexperienced at a time we needed good leadership.”
The Hawks are trying to avoid their third consecutive 0-2 start.
STANDINGS (through Nov. 3): Hawks - 3rd place (tied), 1 GB, Southeast Division. Clippers - 1st place (tied), Pacific Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Hawks - Harrington, 18.0 ppg and 5.0 apg; Pachulia, 12.0 rpg. Clippers - Cassell, 35.0 ppg and 11.0 apg; Singleton, 10.0 rpg.
2004-05 SEASON SERIES: Clippers, 2-0.
LAST MEETING: April 3; Clippers, 111-91. At Atlanta, Brand shot 13 of 18 from the field and finished with 33 points and 12 rebounds as the Clippers shot 57.3 percent. Childress led the Hawks with 23 points.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Hawks - 0-1 on the road; Clippers - 0-0 at home.