Brand, Cassell Lift Clippers Past Celtics
L.A. Clippers 98, Boston 81
BOSTON, Feb. 3 (Ticker) -- Elton Brand flashed his skills in the paint and Sam Cassell showed his soft touch from the outside.
Brand collected 30 points and 11 rebounds and Cassell contributed 23 and eight assists as the Los Angeles Clippers posted a 98-81 triumph over the Boston Celtics.
"We just take what people give us," said Cassell, who grabbed six rebounds. "We are not going to panic, we are going to try to get a quality shot down the stretch, and that's what we did tonight."
The game was tied at 59-59 with 6 1/2 minutes remaining in the third quarter when Los Angeles took the lead for good behind an 18-7 surge that closed out the period and gave the Clippers a 77-66 advantage.
Boston responded by opening the final quarter with a 12-2 run to close within 79-78 with 5:30 to play. Former Clippers center Michael Olowokandi scored six points during the burst.
"I think as a basketball player, you always have something to prove. For me, it's just welcoming an opportunity to play basketball," said Olowokandi, who finished with 10 points. "Every team has a design, but I think over here, given the team is young and the team is in the process of some self discovery and team identity, I definitely think there are more opportunities here."
Cassell and Brand took over the game in the final minutes, scoring the next 13 points in helping Los Angeles build a 94-81 edge with just over one minute remaining. Cassell sank three shots from the arc and the Celtics never threatened thereafter.
"We really played hard, we really had to fight for this one," Brand said. "Sam hit some big threes. They gave me the ball so I could hit some shots. We weren't nervous, but they put some pressure on us. We had to pull that one out."
"We played some really good basketball at times, put some big leads on them and we were hoping they would fold and go away," Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy said. "But they just wouldn't. But then ultimately, when it came down to it, we had big plays by Sam. Obviously, he went through his stretch where he banged down those three 3-pointers against their zone."
Cuttino Mobley scored 18 points and Chris Kaman added 14 and 11 rebounds for the Clippers, who shot 54 percent (39-of-72) from the field.
"It's huge for us because we dropped the first one to Miami, we played well and then beat Orlando," Kaman said. "We wanted to get above .500 on this road trip, and this was a big win for us."
Paul Pierce and Wally Szczerbiak scored 18 points apiece for the Celtics, who shot 35 percent (34-of-96) and made just 4-of-20 3-pointers.
"I just don't think we showed the sense of urgency that we needed down the stretch. That's what the good teams do," Pierce said. "We cut the lead to three, and then we gave a wide-open three to Cassell and Brand makes a couple of tough shots, but we have to show a better sense of urgency."
Celtics forward Al Jefferson was forced to leave the game at the 8:27 mark of the second quarter after twisting his ankle on a rebound. X-rays were negative on Jefferson, who finished with two points and six rebounds.
"I don't want to use the word 'severe,' but it's a pretty tough ankle sprain," Boston coach Doc Rivers said. "It's not broke, which is great, and in no time soon, we'll be seeing him. Following the All-Star break will be the earliest, from what they're telling us right now."