Regular Season Series (Game 4 of 4)

Series starts 12/21

Game 1: Tuesday, December 21st
Game 2: Saturday, January 22nd
Game 3: Saturday, April 16th
Game 4: Wednesday, April 20th

Clippers 86

(37-45, 10-31 away)

Hornets 75

(18-64, 11-30 home)

    Coverage: COX

    7:00 PM ET, April 20, 2005

    Smoothie King Center, New Orleans, LA

    1 2 3 4 T
    LAC 31 15 23 1786
    NO 20 18 17 2075

    Top Performers

    LAC: M. Jaric 14 Pts, 6 Reb, 9 Ast

    NO: P. Brown 12 Pts, 7 Reb, 4 Ast, 1 Blk

    Hornets finish with worst mark in franchise history

    NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- To Elton Brand, the Los Angeles Clippers' dominant performance in their final game of the season was a sign of an improving young team that will be primed to make a playoff run in 2006. That is, if management can retain a couple of key free agents.

    Bobby Simmons and Marko Jaric scored 14 points each to help the Clippers defeat New Orleans 86-75 Wednesday night, leaving the Hornets with the worst record (18-64) in franchise history. Simmons also grabbed 11 rebounds.

    "It's very critical," Brand said, calling Bobby Simmons "the best shooter on this team, by far."

    "We need to get him back and Marko Jaric. We want to sign these guys up and keep this team strong, keep this nucleus strong," Brand said.

    Brand led Los Angeles with 18 points and 14 rebounds in what was otherwise a meaningless game between two non-playoff teams.

    While Simmons and Jaric played leading roles in the victory, it was the opposite story for two of the top Hornets entering the free agent market this summer. Dan Dickau shot 1-for-10 and finished with three points, and Bostjan Nachbar was 1-for-8 for six points. J.R. Smith led New Orleans with 15 points.

    "It is frustrating to end on a note like that, but it's not going to stick in mind too long because there have been too many positives throughout the year," Dickau said.

    New Orleans had a nine-game losing streak to end the season, the last loss leaving the Hornets one game worse than the then-Charlotte Hornets of 1989-90, the franchise's second season in existence.

    But Dickau and Nachbar both said they were thankful for the opportunity they received with the Hornets and sounded genuine when they said they'd like to return.

    "I really like the organization and I'm really thankful for what they gave me," Nachbar said. "They believed in me and that means a lot."

    Simmons said there was a good chance he'd be back with the Clippers.

    "It's going to be one of the biggest decisions of my life. I just have to sit down and weigh my decision," he said, referring to next year's Clippers squad as if were already part of it. "I think we'll be good. If everyone comes in healthy and stays healthy throughout the whole year, that will guarantee us making the playoffs next year."

    New Orleans has a lot farther to go.

    Despite showing some hustle before a surprisingly enthusiastic crowd, the Hornets could shoot no better than 33.7 percent from the floor. The Clippers lead hovered around 10 points for most of the game. It got as large as 69-51 after Jaric's driving scoop, and pull-up jumpers by Shawn Livingston and Zeljko Rebraca rounded out a 12-2 run late in the third quarter.

    The Hornets' only lead was back in the opening minutes.

    Smith's driving dunk right after the opening tap was the first of three dunks in the Hornets' first four possessions, and it looked as though Los Angeles was already thinking about the offseason. That proved to be an aberration, however, and Clippers went on a 22-6 run en route to a 31-18 lead on Brand's 17-foot jumper.

    It left coach Mike Dunleavy pleased with the progress of a team that stayed in the playoff race until March and might have done better if not for a rash of injuries.

    "If you're talking about having the same group back and they'd all be healthy ... I'd like our chances," Dunleavy said.

    Game notes

    The Clippers finished the season 10-31 on the road, while the Hornets, who lost their last 10 home games, finished 11-30 on their home court. ... Hornets owner George Shinn addressed an announced crowd of 15,982 before the game, thanking them for their support despite the team's struggles. He also told them, "this is your team," and pledged that the Hornets would remain in New Orleans for many years to come. The Hornets have been mentioned in several recent reports about cities, such as Kansas City, trying to land an NBA franchise. In a speech at a season-ticket holder event a day earlier, Shinn dismissed those reports.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 86 75
    FGM-FGA 34-83 (.410) 29-86 (.337)
    3PM-3PA 3-5 (.600) 1-15 (.067)
    FTM-FTA 15-22 (.682) 16-17 (.941)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 18-55 17-44
    Assists 15 19
    Turnovers 14 12
    Steals 9 6
    Blocks 6 7
    Fast Break Points 5 9
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 16 (0/0) 22 (0/0)
    Largest Lead 18 6

    Top Performers

    Los Angeles
    New Orleans
    Marko Jaric Jaric
    Points: 14
    Reb: 6
    Ast: 9
    Stl: 0
    Blk: 0
    P.J. Brown Brown
    Points: 12
    Reb: 7
    Ast: 4
    Stl: 0
    Blk: 1