Clippers 92, Hornets 76

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LOS ANGELES (AP)—The Los Angeles Clippers’ stifling defense made it another ugly visit to Staples Center for the New Orleans Hornets.

Elton Brand had 22 points and 10 rebounds and five other players scored in double figures for the Clippers, who forced the Hornets into 26 turnovers in Sunday’s 92-76 victory.

New Orleans has dropped five straight to the Clippers in Los Angeles— including a humiliating 89-67 defeat on March 21 in which they scored an NBA record-low 16 points in the second half. The Hornets missed 21 consecutive shots in that game, had only one field goal over the final 20 minutes and were outscored 25-0 during one stretch.

“I’m sure they remembered that horror show, so they really showed some resilience on their end today by fighting hard and coming back,” Brand said. “But we didn’t fold. We wanted to get that win. You’ve got to protect your homecourt. You’ve got to send a message to other teams that it’s going to be tough to win at Staples Center—especially when you play the Clippers.”

The Lakers’ co-tenants have won five straight—all at home—since losing at Phoenix on opening night. They also won their first five home games last season and finished 27-14 at Staples.

The Hornets, who blew a 27-point lead in Friday’s 92-91 loss at Portland, have lost three straight after starting out 4-0 for the first time in the franchise’s 19-year history.

“I don’t have a problem losing games,” coach Byron Scott said. “I mean, I hate losing—but it’s like when I was a player. If I knew I gave everything I had out there and played like it was the last game I ever played, then I could look at myself in the mirror and say `Hey, they were just better than us that night.’ But right now, we’re not giving ourselves a chance. And that’s very disheartening.”

The Clippers converted the Hornets’ turnovers into 24 points. They turned the ball over 15 times themselves, and have had fewer than their opponents in every game so far.

New Orleans had 12 turnovers in the first quarter—including two shot-clock violations 47 seconds apart. Reserve forward Cedric Simmons coughed up the ball three times during a span of 70 seconds after replacing Tyson Chandler, who picked up two fouls in the first 6 1/2 minutes.

“I don’t think a whole lot of it was the Clippers,” Scott said. “I mean, I love the talent they have over there. They have an excellent basketball team and they’re very well coached by Mike Dunleavy, but they’re not a pressure team. They’re not trapping us full-court. They’re not double-teaming. We’re just throwing the ball away.”

Point guard Chris Paul, held to a season-low 12 points Friday at Portland, made his first five shots and finished with 20 for New Orleans. Chandler had 13 rebounds and eight points.

Down by 13 with 7 minutes left in the third quarter, the Hornets used a 9-0 run to slice the margin to 62-58 with 4:18 left in the period. They got as close as 66-64 just before the end of the third on a pair of free throws by Bobby Jackson, but weren’t able to take the lead.

Los Angeles ran off eight straight points early in the fourth to restore their double-digit margin and trigger a decisive 20-5 run that put the Clippers ahead 88-71 with 1:51 to play.

“We just executed what we needed to do,” Sam Cassell said. “I wouldn’t say we wore them down because they’re a heck of a team. They put you in awkward situations and give you some difficult matchups, with Chris Paul’s penetration and Peja Stojakovic out there shooting the long ball.”

Notes

The Hornets’ franchise record for turnovers is 33, on Nov. 23, 1993 in a 118-98 loss at Washington. … Scott played two seasons for Dunleavy when Dunleavy coached the Lakers—including 1990-91, when they lost to Chicago in the NBA Finals. … The Clippers’ next game is Tuesday night at Utah, where they have lost in 32 of their last 33 visits.

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Top Performers

 Top Performers
 New Orl/OKC
C. Paul C. Paul
9-13,  20 Pts
5 Rebs, 3 Assists
 LA Clippers
E. Brand E. Brand
8-12,  22 Pts
10 Rebs, 4 Assists

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Sunday, Nov 12