Detroit 89, LA Clippers 80

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AUBURN HILLS, MICHIGAN (TICKER) Detroit Pistons rookie Mehmet Okur filled in admirably for Ben Wallace.

Okur contributed season highs of 19 points and 11 rebounds for his first double-double as the Pistons easily defeated the Los Angeles Clippers, 89-80, for their fourth straight victory.

“I feel great,” Okur said. “I played a lot of minutes (38) and I did my job. This might be my first one but I want to get a double-double every night.”

“Mehmet is getting better and better once he gets a feel for the league,” Pistons coach Rick Carlisle said. “His teammates are getting a feel for him and vice versa. He’s a young player and he’s a hard worker. He can be an effective low-post player in this league.”

Clifford Robinson added 17 points, seven rebounds and six assists for Detroit. The Pistons were without Wallace, the All-Star center who was mourning the recent death of his mother.

Detroit trailed by four points in the opening minutes before taking command with an 11-0 run. Robinson capped the burst with a layup with 3:48 left in the opening period, giving the Pistons a 20-12 advantage.

Detroit led, 21-18, after one quarter but outscored the Clippers in the second, 35-14, to blow open the game.

“Horrible second quarter,” Clippers coach Alvin Gentry said. “We couldn’t score and we gave up 35. Obviously that’s where the game was won right there.”

The Pistons led by as many as 27 points in the second half and took a 22-point lead into the fourth quarter before Los Angeles made a late run during garbage time.

“It was great until about the fourth when it got a little ugly, but we did what we had to do,” said Pistons guard Jon Barry, who scored eight points but committed four turnovers. “We finished the break on a good note and hopefully we can come back and get reenergized and get this thing going again. We’ve been playing really good basketball the last 10 days.”

Elton Brand scored 18 points and rookie reserve Melvin Ely had 14 for the Clippers, who lost for the 17th time in their last 19 trips to Detroit.

“First half we didn’t battle at all,” Brand said. “I think a lot of guys are looking forward to the All-Star break. It’s been a tough road for us. They came out, hit some shots, got a big lead. But we kept fighting. The reserves came in and really fought well at the end.”

Los Angeles, one of the league’s biggest disappointments this season, has lost six straight road contests and seven of eight overall.

“We’re going to relax, get rejuvenated, clear our heads and play the second half of the season like it’s the beginning, just try to get something positive out of this season,” Brand said. “We’re not going to give up.”

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Top Performers

 Top Performers
 LA Clippers
E. Brand E. Brand
6-12,  18 Pts
6 Rebs, 3 Assists
 Detroit
C. Robinson C. Robinson
6-17,  17 Pts
7 Rebs, 6 Assists

Team Stat Leaders

Points
Rebounds
Assists