Mobley, Brand Propel Clippers Past 76ers
L.A. Clippers 99, Philadelphia 89
LOS ANGELES, March 17 (Ticker) -- Cuttino Mobley appears right at home against the Philadelphia 76ers.
Continuing a trend against his hometown team, Mobley scored all 20 of his points in three quarters on 8-of-12 shooting and Elton Brand had 24 points and 10 rebounds as the Los Angeles Clippers posted a 99-89 victory over the shorthanded 76ers.
The 30-year-old shooting guard had made just 14-of-44 shots (32 percent) in his last four games before finding the touch against the Sixers (31-34), who have lost three straight without superstar guard Allen Iverson.
"I thought he was more aggressive than normal, for whatever reason," Philadelphia coach Maurice Cheeks said of Mobley.
The Sixers dropped to 0-2 on its three-game road trip and saw its lead over Chicago in the race for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference sliced to two games.
Mobley started the scoring with a 3-pointer 45 seconds into the contest and backcourt mate Sam Cassell gave Los Angeles the lead for good, 13-12, with a basket midway through the first period.
Mobley hit another 3-pointer to start the Clippers' scoring in the second half and scored four straight points to hand his team a 63-51 advantage with 8:23 to go in the third period.
Brand had back-to-back baskets moments later and Cassell capped a 9-0 burst with a 3-pointer for a 74-57 lead with less than five minutes remaining in the quarter. The advantage ballooned to 92-70 midway through the fourth quarter.
Brand was 11-of-18 from the field and recorded six blocked shots as Los Angeles rebounded from a 31-point setback at Phoenix on Wednesday.
"It was very important that we bounce back after such a big loss," Brand said. "Defense was the key. Defense cost us against Phoenix and to come back here and play such a strong defensive game is very important. It says a lot about our ball club."
"You have to play at the top of your game when you meet Phoenix," Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy Sr. said. "Basically we can't make very many mistakes against them because they will make you pay the price. Everybody else makes mistakes here and there and you can get away with it. But they shoot the ball so well that you don't get away with much."
Dunleavy's crew rebounded by limiting Philadelphia to a 43 percent (36-of-83) mark from the floor.
All five Sixers starters scored in double figures, led by Chris Webber's 19 points, but the reserves were outscored, 36-15. Making his third straight start in Iverson's place and 17th this season, John Salmons had a career-high 12 assists.
Webber was held scoreless on three shots in the fourth quarter.
"Webber has always been a great scorer," Brand said. "He is always a good matchup for anybody. I just wanted to try to limit his shots and keep him off the boards."
Iverson, who ranks second in the NBA with a 33.2 scoring average, is doubtful to return from a sprained right foot on the road trip, which ends Sunday at Golden State.
Webber recognizes his team's shortcomings with Iverson's absence coupled with the road trip.
"It is tough," Webber said. "But we have to find a way to get the job done. It's frustrating and we definitely miss Allen and it is hard to play without him."
Despite the swoon, Webber sees his team as a playoff-bound squad.
"The playoffs are a big concern to us," Webber added. "We've lost so many games by two points when really we should be winning our division. We are going to the playoffs as an underdog, so we have to try and move up. I believe anything can happen in the playoffs."