L.A. Clippers 95, Charlotte 87
LOS ANGELES, Feb. 27 (Ticker) --
Thanks to their MVP candidate, the Los
Angeles Clippers are a Brand new team.
collected 35 points and 10 rebounds as the Clippers
recorded a 95-87 victory over the pesky Charlotte Bobcats, who
lost for the seventh time in eight games.
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had 18 points and 11 assists and Cuttino Mobley
scored 14 points for the Clippers, who played without Corey Maggette
, Chris Kaman
and Quinton Ross
but once again leaned on
Brand, who continues to play the best basketball of his career.
Averaging career bests of 25.5 points and 2.6 blocks - in
addition to 10.3 rebounds - Brand ranks in the NBA's top 10 in
all three categories. He has Los Angeles (32-23) on track for
its first postseason appearance in nine years.
"We all look over the standings and the potential seedings,"
Brand said. "We look at what teams are behind us and we
definitely watch closely where we are at all times."
On Friday, Brand had 32 points and 11 rebounds to help the
Clippers snap a season-high five-game losing streak vs. the
crosstown Lakers. Three nights later, the two-time All-Star
made 15-of-23 shots from the floor and 5-of-7 free throws for
his 32nd double-double of the season.
"They started feeding the ball back to Brand and he took
advantage of the mismatches he had," said Bobcats forward Gerald Wallace
, who had 15 points and 16 rebounds. "It was hard for
us to leave the guy we were guarding to double-team Brand. It
put us in an awkward position."
Los Angeles took command of the contest with a 22-2 run spanning
the second and third quarters, turning a one-point lead into a
21-point cushion in a little more than five minutes.
"We needed this one," Mobley said. "They are a scrappy team and
you don't want to take them for granted. We had a 21-point
lead but we blew that a little but we pulled it out."
Brand ignited the surge with a driving dunk before Cassell,
and Mobley all drilled 3-pointers to send
the Clippers into halftime with a 59-44 advantage.
"It's a great feeling to have a guy like (Brand)," said
Radmanovic, who scored 10 points in his fifth game since being
acquired from Seattle. "Especially because he's a low-post guy
and he can shoot the mid-range jumper. It's great to play with
him, he opens up a lot for everybody else."
"I thought we played pretty good in some areas," Wallace said.
"We had a letdown just before the half when it was a three-point
game and quickly they got it to a 15-point lead. I think it
came down to they made the shots and we didn't."
Mobley began the third quarter with a basket and two free throws
and Brand put an exclamation point on the burst with a jumper
just two minutes into the second half.
The Bobcats, who have plenty of injury problems of their own,
sliced the deficit to 89-83 on a layup by Brevin Knight
1:47 to play. But the Clippers immediately went to Brand, who
drilled a jumper in the lane to restore order.
"We played about a quarter and a half tonight," said Charlotte
coach Bernie Bickerstaff
, whose team shot under 42 percent.
"But we played the fourth quarter with some fight to get back
into it. The shot Brand made late in the game was a big-time
shot and he made it at a very critical time in the basketball
Cassell and Mobley each made a pair of free throws in the waning
seconds to seal the Clippers' fourth win in as many all-time
meetings with the Bobcats.
"We got off to a big lead and then had to hold on," Brand said.
"It is a lesson we've learned many times."
Knight dished out 17 assists but scored only 12 points on
3-of-12 shooting. Rookie Raymond Felton
also struggled from the
field, settling for just four points on 1-of-7 shooting for
Charlotte (15-43), which committed 21 turnovers in dropping to
5-25 on the road.
"We gave up 25 points off those 21 turnovers," Bickerstaff said.
"And our backcourt was 5-for-29 from the field."
The Clippers' guards were much more effective, especially
Cassell, who connected on 7-of-16 shots from the floor, adding
four of the team's eight steals.
"I just took what they gave me and came out playing aggressive,"
Cassell said. "My team needed that."