7:30 PM ET, November 29, 2004
STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, CA
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Elton Brand sported a scratch several inches long, from underneath his right eye extending down his cheek.
"It's just a 12-inch welt," he explained. "One of those big guys scratched me right in the face."
It looked painful, but Brand couldn't stop smiling.
That was understandable, considering he had just scored 30 points and equaled a season-high with six assists as the Los Angeles Clippers beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 94-82 on Monday night to complete the second-best November in franchise history.
"What was the best?" Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy asked.
Told it was 12-4 by the 1974-75 team, playing in Buffalo, Dunleavy said: "We'll try that next November."
The Clippers (9-6) won despite playing without leading scorer Corey Maggette (sprained left ankle) and offseason free-agent acquisition Kerry Kittles (sore right knee). Rookie Shaun Livingston (broken kneecap) is also sidelined.
The only other times the Clippers have had a winning record in November were in 1977 (8-6) and 1992 (7-6). The franchise was formed in 1970.
Maybe they're a doormat no more.
"We're getting really good defensive play out of our guys and we're getting great ball movement," Dunleavy said. "Those two things are helping us win games."
The loss was just the second in 11 games for the Cavaliers (9-5), who were shooting for their first 10-win November since 1977.
"It wasn't just Simmons, it was everybody," James said. "The whole team pretty much collapsed on me, made me give the ball up and made me take tough shots. They played great tonight."
James had 22 points, seven rebounds, five assists and six steals -- equaling his career high. But he scored only two points in the fourth quarter, when the Clippers outscored the Cavaliers 24-14.
"They were crowding him -- two or three people on him most of the time, and other guys weren't sharp," Cavaliers coach Paul Silas said. "But that's going to happen. We're kind of used to that now. A lot of teams are doubling LeBron, trying to make him give the ball up. So other guys have to step up."
"It's not just an easy win every time you play the Cavs," James said. "You've just got to come out and play. It's just like the Clippers, too. They've started to turn it around in the Western Conference. So we're two common teams."
The Clippers put the game away by outscoring the Cavaliers 14-2 for an 87-74 lead with 3:45 remaining. Simmons scored eight points during the run.
Regarding his defensive effort on James, Simmons said: "It's never going to be easy. I thought I did a pretty good job tonight. The big thing is keeping the ball out of his hands."
James had 10 points and three steals to spark a 19-8 run by the Cavaliers to start the third quarter, tying the game 60-all. Quinton Ross scored the next four points to put the Clippers back in front, and they led 70-68 entering the fourth period.
Checked closely by Simmons, James had only two points before making three baskets in the last 3:38 of the second quarter. Brand scored the first four points of the period, giving him 17 at that stage and the Clippers a 36-21 lead. Los Angeles led 52-41 at halftime.
James was selected Eastern Conference player of the week Monday -- the second time he's won that award this season. ... Dunleavy hopes Maggette and Kittles won't miss much playing time. "I'm hoping Kittles, maybe Wednesday," Dunleavy said. "The swelling's coming down. Corey, it will take a couple games." ... The game was the fourth in five nights for the Clippers, but they won all four. ... Dunleavy said the 19-year-old James is "light years" ahead of where he was last year at this time. "He's the most efficient guy in the league right now," Dunleavy said. "You treat LeBron pretty much the way you would treat a Kobe Bryant." ... The Cavaliers placed F-C Scott Williams on the injured list before the game and activated rookie F-C Anderson Varejao.
Team Stat Comparison
|FGM-FGA||35-80 (.438)||36-74 (.486)|
|3PM-3PA||1-10 (.100)||1-5 (.200)|
|FTM-FTA||11-14 (.786)||21-25 (.840)|
|Fast Break Points||11||6|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||23 (1/0)||15 (1/0)|