Los Angeles 100, Charlotte 93

Los Angeles, Feb. 26 (AP) -- Another serious injury to star-crossed point guard Shaun Livingston put a damper on what should have been a celebratory mood in the Los Angeles Clippers' dressing room.

Corey Maggette scored a season-high 25 points and the Clippers beat the Charlotte Bobcats 100-93 on Monday night after losing Livingston with a dislocated left knee cap.

"I love that kid,'' teammate Cuttino Mobley said. "It's a tough thing to happen to him - not only for the team, but also for our fans. He is really special.''

Livingston, the fourth overall pick in the 2004 draft out of high school, was injured in the first quarter while driving to the basket on a fast break. He missed a layup, landed awkwardly, then crumpled to the floor in obvious pain while play continued for another 18 seconds.

The Staples Center crowd of 18,442 grew hushed while Livingston was wheeled off the floor with 8:10 left in the quarter. He had X-rays taken, which were negative, then was taken to the hospital for further evaluation. The team wouldn't say how long Livingston would be out until it had results of an MRI exam.

Livingston, who had a career-high 14 assists in Saturday's 103-90 victory over the Golden State Warriors, has yet to play a full season in the NBA. He missed 39 games during his rookie campaign because of a dislocated right knee, and another 12 that season because of torn cartilage in his right shoulder. Last season he sat out the first 21 games with a stress reaction in his lower back. He also missed two games in January with a sprained right ankle.

"He was playing well,'' Elton Brand said. "He just had one of his best games of the season against Golden State, so it was really disappointing. After he got injured, it was on the back of everyone's mind. We wanted to pull it out, even though it was a downer with Shaun going down the way he did.''

Livingston's stunned teammates regrouped against a Charlotte squad beginning a six-game road trip without the services of leading rebounder and shot-blocker Emeka Okafor, out with a strained left calf. Six Clippers scored in double figures, including Brand, who had 14 points and 12 rebounds.

"Obviously we're pleased about our win, but it came at a big price,'' coach Mike Dunleavy said. "It was very clear to our guys what the situation was and what the consequences would be.''

Gerald Wallace, who left Saturday's 93-76 home loss to Toronto in the third quarter because of a groin strain, led the Bobcats with 20 points and 12 rebounds. Matt Carroll, starting in Okafor's place, had 19 points and nine boards.

"It has to be a team effort, because Emeka's such a big piece of our team,'' Carroll said. "Without his game underneath - blocking shots and getting almost 20 rebounds a game - all of us have to step up and start rebounding the ball. I thought I did well throughout the game.''

The Clippers squandered a 15-point second-quarter lead against the Bobcats. Tim Thomas' short jumper gave Los Angeles a 45-30 cushion with 7 minutes left in the second quarter, but the Bobcats pulled ahead for the first time at 65-64 with an 18-7 run capped by Carroll's 3-pointer with 3:40 left in the third quarter.

The Clippers regained the lead for good with 2:38 left in the third on a hook shot off the glass by center Chris Kaman, who returned to the lineup in a reserve role after missing two games with flu-like symptoms. Mobley helped keep Charlotte at bay with a short bank shot and a 3-pointer from the right corner, then Maggette helped secure the victory by making seven of eight free throws in the final 64 seconds.

"You cannot defend 45 free throws. That is ridiculous,'' Charlotte coach Bernie Bickerstaff said. "I just think our guys deserve much better than that. They played their keisters off and fought back in the game. But it had nothing to do with X's and O's. The Clippers won the game on the free throw line. They are a great free throw-shooting team.''

The Bobcats, a third-year expansion team, are 0-5 against Los Angeles.

Notes: The Clippers are 2-0 since getting routed at home by the Phoenix Suns last Tuesday. The morning after that game, the players received a motivational talk before practice from a few Marines who came up north from Camp Pendleton on a previously scheduled invitation. "I felt they could help our mindset and our focus for when we make our last push here,'' coach Mike Dunleavy said. "I mean, it's not like we had General Patton in, but I thought is was positive, and it was good perspective for our guys who at times think that we have it bad. A lot of people are in tougher situations, and I think it's easy to lose perspective.''

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