Clippers' 6-2 start best in franchise history

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Sam Cassell has earned a reputation for
making every team he plays on better. It's even working for the Los
Angeles Clippers.

Cassell had 23 points and nine assists before sitting out the
fourth quarter, Corey Maggette added 21 points and the vastly
improved Clippers breezed to a 109-85 rout of the Milwaukee Bucks
on Tuesday night.

At 6-2, Los Angeles is off to the best start in franchise
history and tied with defending NBA champion San Antonio for the
best record in the Western Conference.

"It feels good to have the team playing at such a high level,"
Cassell said. "It was our defensive intensity that won it tonight.
We had a lot of deflections tonight and our team strives off of
deflections. We got on the break and we stopped them from scoring.
I don't know what they shot as a team (39 percent), but I know it
wasn't that high."

Elton Brand had 20 points and 11 rebounds. Quinton Ross, who has
started all eight games for the Clippers at small forward, sat out
the second half because of back spasms. Maggette, coming off the
bench for the fourth straight game after missing the first four
because of a left hamstring strain, scored his first 11 points in
the second quarter.

"My job is to play basketball," said Maggette, who led the
Clippers in scoring each of the previous two seasons. "As far as
my situation, coming off the bench, I have nothing else to say
about that. I'm going to let the coach handle that. I'm just glad
my team is winning and playing good right now. Our team has a lot
of weapons, and each game we have to use them to win."

Michael Redd and backcourt mate T.J. Ford each had 15 points for
the Bucks, who have lost 17 consecutive road games against Western
Conference teams since beating Sacramento 112-101 on March 23,
2004. They dropped all 15 on the road against the West last season.

"We've been playing from behind all year, and I don't know if
it caught up to us," Milwaukee coach Terry Stotts said. "The
Clippers came out and showed why they have the kind of record they
do. They hit the shots they needed to hit."

Milwaukee entered as the only team that had not been held under
100 points, and had outrebounded its opponent in each of the first
five games. But the Clippers finished with a 38-35 edge on the
boards and limited the Bucks to two offensive rebounds in the
second half.

"That was the difference right there," Los Angeles coach Mike
Dunleavy said. "We didn't let them get second-chance points, and
we were able to get out in the open court and run up the score."

Bobby Simmons, who left the Clippers after two seasons to sign a
$47 million, five-year contract with the Bucks last August, scored
13 points in 32 minutes in his first game against his former
teammates after averaging 14.2 points and 7.0 rebounds in
Milwaukee's first five games.

Simmons, voted the NBA's most improved player last season,
attempted only one shot in the first quarter and missed on a
17-foot jumper. He started 0-for-3 and finished 5-for-12 from the

When he arrived at his locker before the game, Simmons found a
Clippers No. 21 road jersey hanging in it.

"He's a great friend of mine," Maggette said. "I was talking
trash to him each time down the court, but I was glad to see him

The Clippers never trailed, increasing a 14-point lead to 83-59
with a 12-2 spurt capped by Brand's two free throws with 1:17 left
in the third. Cassell, who turns 36 on Friday, scored the first six
points of that run and Los Angeles opened the fourth with a 14-5
spurt for a 99-68 cushion with 6:18 to play.

"Corey, Elton, it's their team. I'm just a guy who's going to
run the ship," Cassell said. "I've only got a couple of years
left to play in this league. I'm playing this year and two more,
and I'm done. I'm going to be a reserve next year and I'm going to
live it out."

Game notes
The Clippers have beaten Milwaukee six straight times at
Staples Center. The franchise record for consecutive home wins
against one team is 13, against the Jazz. The first six were played
in Buffalo, the last seven in San Diego. The Clippers beat Dallas
11 straight times at the L.A. Sports Arena from 1990-94. ...
Maggette scored 34 points the last time he faced Milwaukee in a
116-108 win on March 23 in Los Angeles. ... Los Angeles opened with
an 8-0 run while Milwaukee missed its first six shots. ...
Milwaukee's Andrew Bogut, the first overall pick in the June draft,
played 15 minutes and scored two points.