Clippers Continue Hot Start, Top Warriors
L.A. Clippers 113, Golden State 101
LOS ANGELES, Nov. 20 (Ticker) -- As the Los Angeles Clippers continue their transformation into the city's more glamorous team, Elton Brand's grit should not be overlooked.
Brand collected a season-high 32 points and 10 rebounds and provided the hustle and muscle down the stretch as the Clippers held on for a 113-101 victory over the Golden State Warriors and remained unbeaten at home.
Corey Maggette had 24 points and nine rebounds and Cuttino Mobley added 22 and eight for the Clippers (8-2), who widened their lead atop the Pacific Division as they continued the best start in franchise history.
The new backcourt of Mobley and Sam Cassell is getting most of the attention and credit for the success of the Clippers. But the club's constant remains Brand, a model of consistency at power forward.
"He's been playing great for us," Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy said.
"I think Elton was always an underrated power forward in the league because he was on a losing team," said Warriors guard Jason Richardson, who scored 20 points. "He's one big reason the Clippers are 8-2. But if they win, he's going to be equally mentioned with the names like Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan and guys like that."
On Sunday, Brand registered his fourth straight double-double and pushed the Clippers to victory after they had squandered most of a 17-point third-quarter lead.
Two free throws by Mickael Pietrus pulled Golden State within 98-92 with 7:41 to play. But the Warriors went cold and the Clippers rebuilt the lead as Cassell made two free throws and a jumper around a pair of foul shots by Mobley.
Brand started throwing his body around under both baskets. He split a pair from the line for a 105-92 lead with 3:35 remaining. After a dunk by Pietrus, Brand pulled an offensive rebound out of a scrum and drew a foul, sinking two more free throws, then tipped in a miss.
"We had to be aggressive, get to the hole, make our shots and play aggressive," Brand said. "They made their shots and we had to play great defense. They're a good team and they really played hard today."
Brand blocked a shot, wrestled a rebound away from a Warrior and drew another foul. His two free throws made it 111-94 with 1:43 to go.
While he was at the line, the crowd showed its appreciation for the blue-collar work by chanting "MVP."
"He's playing tremendous basketball for us," Maggette said. "I'm happy with what he's being doing. It just shows his leadership. He's a quiet-spoken guy but he does his speaking on the court. We're just glad that he's stepping up. Having an MVP on our team is great for us and it's great for Los Angeles."
Cassell had 14 points and 10 assists for the Clippers, who have won five straight meetings with the Warriors and pushed them 2 1/2 games back in the Pacific Division.
"It means a lot," Brand said. "They're a team in our division, we're trying to stay ahead of them and we're trying to protect our home court. So we did all that at once tonight."
L.A. native Baron Davis had 21 points and 13 assists for the Warriors, who missed 14 of 15 shots during one stretch of the fourth quarter and finished at 39 percent (37-of-95).
"They're a tough team to play," Richardson said. "I think they wanted it a little bit more. I think they played a little more than we did and won the game."
"They gave us some problems in the post and then we went to the zone," Mobley said. "We got back on the fast break and got some easy shots. We said in the huddle, 'Buckle down, be smart, don't take quick shots that will enable them to get out on the fast break.'"
An up-tempo first half ended with the Clippers holding a 61-57 lead. The Warriors closed to 67-64 on a basket by Mike Dunleavy Jr. before the hosts put together an 18-4 surge.
Maggette sparked it with seven early points and Mobley scored the last five, including a 3-pointer for an 85-68 bulge with 3:56 to go.
"We started the game out pretty good, then we got a case of fool's gold and started jacking up bad shots and we let them right back in the game," the elder Dunleavy said. "I wasn't happy about that. But defensively we got ourselves back into it."