The Los Angeles Clippers and Cleveland Cavaliers needed overtime to decide their last meeting. Three days later, the emerging franchises will be at it again when Los Angeles opens a five-game homestand at Staples Center.
Los Angeles has been one of the biggest early season surprises in the NBA as it continues its quest to reach the playoffs for the first time since 1997. The Clippers have received outstanding play from Western Conference player of the month Elton Brand and Corey Maggette to complete their most successful October/November (10-5) since the franchise opened 16-6 in 1974.
Cleveland, which is off to a 10-5 start, was expected to be improved after adding Larry Hughes, Donyell Marshall and Damon Jones in the offseason. However, the Cavaliers got off to a 10-4 start last season before fading and just missing the eighth and final playoff spot for the second straight season.
The Clippers are trying to gain revenge after falling 112-105 Wednesday at Cleveland. Los Angeles wasted a season-high 33-point effort from Brand, who had a chance to win it at the end of regulation and missed a driving jumper in the lane.
“I could have had us out of here,” Brand said. “It was the play we wanted. It felt good, but I missed it.”
Marshall scored nine points during a 2:16 stretch spanning the end of regulation and overtime to lift Cleveland.
Los Angeles was unable to stop Cleveland center Zydrunas Ilgauskas, who had 29 points and 10 rebounds before fouling out. Clippers center Chris Kaman had a miserable time defending Ilgauskas, fouling out after missing all five of his shots.
“Z’s an All-Star,” Cleveland star LeBron James said. “He does a great job of exploiting a lot of matchups. He got some easy buckets and it helped a lot.”
James had 28 points, nine assists and seven rebounds for the Cavaliers. He is averaging 18.0 points, 7.0 assists and 6.8 rebounds in five career games against the Clippers.
“This was a real big win,” James said. “The Clippers are up and coming on the West Coast and we are up and coming on the East Coast. We’re very similar, but we got some defensive stops in overtime and that was it. Brand didn’t score in overtime. That was the key.”
Cleveland began a three-game road trip with a 115-108 loss at Seattle on Friday. James had 34 points and eight assists for the Cavaliers, who surrendered their second-highest point total of the season to a 123-120 win at Philadelphia on Nov. 19.
The Cavaliers are 8-24 at Western Conference opponents during James’ three seasons, including 0-3 this season.
STANDINGS (through Dec. 2): Cavaliers - 2nd place (tied), 2 1/2 GB, Central Division. Clippers - 2nd place, 1/2 GB, Pacific Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Cavaliers - James, 28.7 ppg and 4.7 apg; Gooden, 9.4 rpg. Clippers - Brand, 23.7 ppg and 10.7 rpg; Cassell, 7.4 apg.
SEASON SERIES: Cavaliers, 1-0.
LAST MEETING: Nov. 30; Cavaliers, 112-105 (OT). At Cleveland, Marshall’s three-point play with 47 seconds left in regulation tied the game, and he added two 3-pointers early in the extra period.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Cavaliers - 3-4 on the road; Clippers - 5-1 at home.