Los Angeles has lost two of its last three games in arguably its toughest stretch of the season. The Clippers beat Phoenix on Saturday, lost to Eastern Conference champion Detroit on Sunday and were beaten 95-87 in overtime by NBA champion San Antonio on Tuesday.
Elton Brand notched his fifth straight double-double with 24 points and 12 rebounds for Los Angeles, which nearly overcame a season-low 33 percent shooting performance in an attempt to end a seven-game losing streak against San Antonio. The Clippers were outscored 11-3 in overtime, falling for the second time in three overtime games this season.
Los Angeles has dropped back-to-back games for just the second time this season, also doing so from Nov. 25-27.
Brand averaged 22.3 points and 11.3 rebounds in three meetings against the Hornets last season.
The Clippers are still without swingman Corey Maggette, who has missed four straight games with a sprained left foot and did not accompany the team on the road trip.
New Orleans snapped a five-game losing streak with a 91-87 victory at Phoenix on Sunday. J.R. Smith broke out of a slump with a season-high 26 points, making all 10 of his free throws.
Smith entered the game averaging 10.4 points on 35.3 percent (18-of-51) shooting during New Orleans’ losing streak.
Hornets rookie Chris Paul continues to impress, averaging 16.5 points and 7.0 assists. He went against reigning league MVP Steve Nash on Sunday, finishing with 19 points, seven assists and seven rebounds.
“I talked to (Nash) the whole game and I told him he needed to slow down, just a little bit,” Paul said. “He just always continues to probe and that’s something I try to do in my game also.”
New Orleans is 8-3 when Paul hands out at least seven assists.
STANDINGS (through Dec. 13): Clippers - 1st place, Pacific Division. Hornets - 4th place, 8 GB, Southwest Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Clippers - Brand, 25.4 ppg and 10.8 rpg; Cassell, 7.3 apg. Hornets - Paul, 16.5 ppg and 7 apg; Brown, 7.9 rpg.
2004-05 SEASON SERIES: Clippers, 3-1.
LAST MEETING: April 20: Clippers, 86-75. At New Orleans, Brand had 18 points and 14 rebounds and Shaun Livingston added 17 points as the Clippers ended the season by handing the Hornets their 10th straight home loss.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Clippers - 5-5 on the road; Hornets - 4-4 at home.