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Maggette scores 31 despite sore wrist

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Corey Maggette played hurt against the team
he began his NBA career with -- and he did some damage to the
Orlando Magic.

Maggette shrugged off a sore left wrist and scored 31 points
Wednesday night, leading the Los Angeles Clippers to a 110-102
victory that extended Orlando's losing streak to a season-high six
games.

"I needed to play," said Maggette, who was injured in a fall
during Sunday's win against Chicago and had his wrist heavily
taped. "I mean, if it's my shooting arm, or if I can't run, that's
a different story. But we needed this win, so I was just trying to
stay out there and do what I could to help our team."

Maggette also tied a season high with eight assists. Chris Kaman
had 16 points and 11 rebounds for the Clippers, who improved to
29-35 and eclipsed last season's win total despite coughing up most
of a 22-point lead they had with 8:31 remaining.

"We had that big lead, and that's what carried us to the end,"
said Elton Brand, who had 13 points and 12 rebounds. "I'm
disappointed in the way we gave it up, but we got the win."

Rookie Dwight Howard had a career-high 29 points and grabbed 12
boards for the Magic, who have dropped nine of 12 and are two games
under .500 for the first time this season. Rookie Jameer Nelson
scored 22 points before fouling out with 28.8 seconds left.

The loss dropped Orlando into a tie with idle Philadelphia for
the eighth and final Eastern Conference playoff spot. Last year,
the Magic were a league-worst 21-61.

"We're in trouble. We haven't won for like a week or so,"
Francis said. "This is definitely our lowest point of the season.
We just need to get back to playing the up-tempo style of game that
we're used to."

Howard, the first overall pick in last year's draft, was
14-for-17 from the field after taking only one shot on Tuesday
night at Sacramento and missing it. But Steve Francis, who came in
shooting 42.4 percent from the field and averaging a team-high 21.5
points, missed seven of his first eight shots and finished 4-for-17
with 15 points.

"They did a good job on Steve defensively and caused him to
miss a lot of shots that he normally makes for us," coach Johnny
Davis said. "It was a pretty good defensive job by Maggette -- and
he also hurt us at the other end, hitting key shots when we had to
get key stops."

The Clippers opened the fourth quarter with an 8-2 spurt run
that gave them a 95-73 cushion with 8:31 to play. But they missed
10 of their first 12 shots in the quarter and went eight minutes
and 2 seconds between field goals.

"The only way you give yourself a chance is by really locking
people down defensively," Davis said. "We had a stretch there
where we did close the game down, but you can't spot a team that
many points and expect a team to come back because then you have to
play perfect basketball."

The Magic narrowed the gap to 98-93 with a 20-3 run capped by
Francis' three-point play with 2:58 left, but that was as close as
they got. The Clippers converted six consecutive free throws before
Rick Brunson's 3-pointer ended the field goal drought and restored
Los Angeles' double-digit lead at 107-97 with a minute left.

"That was the dagger," Maggette said. "Teams go through
stretches where they miss shots, but in the end, we came out with a
W. We made a lot of mistakes, but we did a lot of good things,
too."

Stacey Augmon was benched by coach Johnny Davis after serving a
one-game suspension for cursing and squirting lotion at three
Florida-based sportswriters following Sunday's home loss to New
Jersey. The incident began when Augmon took exception to a
post-game question that one of the beat writers asked Francis, and
deteriorated to the point where Augmon had to be restrained by a
club spokesman.

"I just didn't see a spot for him tonight where he would have
come in and given us what he normally gives us," Davis said.
"Being down most of the night, we were looking for
offensive-oriented players -- especially in the second half. And
Stacey's more on the defensive end."

Game notes
Los Angeles was leading 72-62 when the ball bounced out of
bounds at midcourt and right into the hands of Clippers owner
Donald Sterling. He shook Francis' hand and said something to him
before handing the ball to him for the ensuing inbounds play. ...
Maggette spent his rookie season with Orlando after getting
selected 13th overall in the 1999 draft by Seattle. ... Clippers G
Marko Jaric did not dress because of a hip pointer. ... Orlando
made only seven turnovers after totaling 45 in the previous two
games -- including a season-high 25 Tuesday's 105-94 loss at
Sacramento.