Brand comes through in clutch for Clippers


LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Elton Brand admitted he wanted the ball in
crunch time. He got it, and led the Los Angeles Clippers to a rare
victory over their crosstown rivals.

Corey Maggette had 28 points to equal a career-high, and Brand
scored 11 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter Wednesday night as
the Clippers beat the Lakers 95-90.

Brand scored six of his team's final seven points as the
Clippers beat the two-time defending NBA champions for only the
second time in their last 20 meetings.

"I wanted the ball, I felt when I had it, I'd play for myself
and my teammates," said Brand, who also had 12 rebounds, four
assists and two blocked shots. "I had a lot of confidence.

"Right now, for this team, I'm the guy to make the big shots."

The Clippers, who trailed 49-35 at halftime, played without
Lamar Odom, who is missed his third consecutive game due to a sprained
ligament in his right wrist and is sidelined indefinitely.

Maggette started in Odom's place and scored 23 points in the
second half.

"I think it started with the defense, then I hit some shots,"
Maggette said. "My job is not really to do all that, my job is to
play good defense, score 10 or 12 points."

Kobe Bryant scored 27 points and Shaquille O'Neal had 24 points
and 10 rebounds for the Lakers (28-11), who lost their second
consecutive game and fifth in the last seven.

Guarded mostly by Bryant, Maggette made a 3-pointer with 10:47
remaining to snap a 72-all tie and put the Clippers ahead for good.

Maggette and Bryant could be seen talking to each other often
during the game.

"We were just having fun," Maggette said. "Kobe's a great
player, just friendly talk. Both guys made some good shots."

Bryant smiled when asked about his exchanges with Maggette.

"Just trash-talking, that's all," Bryant said. "He made four
straight 3-point shots. I told him, I liked my chances of him not
knocking down a fifth one."

Maggette did so, and missed.

"He played great tonight," Bryant said.

Regarding the outcome, Bryant said: "It was just execution,
that's all. Down the stretch, we had a chance to steal the
ballgame. We just didn't execute. The Clippers are an athletic
team, they feed off momentum.

"Two losses in a row, two rings in a row," Bryant added,
referring to the Lakers' back-to-back championships. "It's a long
season, you take the good with the bad."

The Lakers closed to two points on a basket by O'Neal with
3:12 left, but Brand scored five consecutive points to make it 93-86
with 1:42 remaining.

A free throw by Derek Fisher and a 3-pointer by Devean George
made it 93-90 with 1:22 to play, and Fisher missed a 3-pointer that
could have tied the game.

After the Clippers committed a turnover, Brand blocked a 3-point
attempt by Rick Fox, and Fisher missed a dunk with 21 seconds to

"I felt like there was definitely contact on the arm," said
Fisher, who rarely dunks. "Down the stretch, the referees are
going to make the players make plays."

Darius Miles made a foul shot and Bryant missed a 3-pointer to end any
hopes the Lakers might have had. A free throw by Brand with two
seconds left completed the scoring.

"I think that we are not putting full games together," Lakers
coach Phil Jackson said. "They are playing better than we are
right now. You have got to give Corey (Maggette) credit."'

Maggette, averaging 10.6 points, had 18 in the third quarter as
the Clippers outscored the Lakers 35-21 to tie the game at 70.

A dunk by O'Neal triggered a 13-6 run by the Lakers to give them
a 25-19 lead entering the second quarter.

Bryant scored eight points as part of a 13-2 run in the last
five minutes of the first half to give the Lakers their 14-point

The game was played before a crowd of 20,309 in Staples Center.
It was the fourth-largest crowd in the history of the Clippers, who
were the home team.

Game notes
The Lakers have a 114-38 overall record against the
Clippers and are 2-1 in the crosstown series this season. ... Odom,
averaging 13.1 points, 6.1 rebounds and 5.9 assists, underwent an
MRI on Wednesday that revealed he has a sprained ligament in his
wrist. Odom's wrist will be placed in a cast Thursday, and a
determination will be made at that time as to when he might return.
... Robert Horry didn't play for the Lakers because of a cramped
left hamstring.