LOS ANGELES (AP)—The Los Angeles Clippers showed their maturity on Monday night.
Elton Brand had 27 points and 13 rebounds and the Clippers posted their first wire-to-wire victory of the season, beating New Orleans 109-80. They did it despite losing starting forward Corey Maggette for most of the fourth quarter with a sprained right ankle.
Maggette turned the ankle while coming down with a defensive rebound less than 30 seconds into the quarter and the Clippers ahead by 14. But the Hornets got no closer, and saw their four-game winning streak end.
“For a young team, it’s unusual that we maintain our composure like we do in the fourth quarter,” forward Glen Rice said. “That’s definitely solid for us, and we’ve just got to keep building on that.”
Marko Jaric scored 10 of his season-high 19 points during a decisive 16-2 run that gave Los Angeles a 105-76 cushion with three minutes to play.
The Clippers, who shot 50.6 percent from the field, won their third straight.
“This team can be as good as we want to be,” Rice said. “As long as each guy does what it takes to win, we’ll have a lot of heads spinning around here. We’re a very talented team.
“If we go out there and just remember that as long as we do it together, be unselfish on the offensive end and cover each one another’s back on the defensive end, we can play like this every night and have big wins like this.”
Jamaal Magloire scored 15 of his 17 points in the first half and had 10 rebounds for the Hornets, who had won nine of their previous 11 games against the Clippers. P.J. Brown had 16 points and 13 rebounds, and Baron Davis had 16 points and eight assists.
The Hornets, who lead the league in 3-pointers made and attempted, finished 2-for-21 from behind the arc and shot 35.7 percent overall.
“We defended them real well,” Quentin Richardson said. “Once we took the inside away from them, it was kind of tough for them and they started missing outside shots.”
David Wesley missed his first seven shots—all in the first half—and finished with five points on 1-for-8 shooting. It was only the second time this season that the Hornets’ second-leading scorer failed to reach double digits.
“Obviously, we didn’t shoot the ball well tonight and we didn’t get back in transition, which gave them a lot of confidence,” Wesley said. “We surged a little bit, but they answered right back and got themselves going.”
The Clippers took a 16-point lead into the fourth against the Hornets en route to their most lopsided win of the season.
Los Angeles opened the third quarter with a 14-5 run that extended its margin to 62-49, then got it up to 20 on Doug Overton’s 19-footer with 1:19 left in the quarter.
Rice, who spent three seasons with the Hornets when they were in Charlotte, entered the game with 9:26 left in the second quarter and made his first three shots.
“The legs are letting stronger as each day passes and the confidence level is starting to move up, so I just try and go out there and do what I do best,”Rice said.
After the game, Maggette said there was a 50 percent chance he would play in the Clippers’ next game, Wednesday against Milwaukee. … Hornets assistant coach Alvin Gentry took the high road in his return to Staples Center, where he coached the Clippers for two-plus seasons before being fired last March. “Obviously, no one likes to get fired. But, for the most part, it was a real positive experience here,” Gentry said. “I want those guys to do well. There’s no reason why I wouldn’t. They’ve got great talent.” … The Clippers played all but three minutes without second-year F Chris Wilcox, who sprained his left wrist against Phoenix and gave it a shot late in the first quarter. … It was the second time in the last three games that the Hornets allowed at least 100 points, after holding opponents under 100 in each of their previous 14 contests. … The Hornets had won their previous seven gamesagainst Pacific Division teams, including five this season.