Regular Season Series (Game 2 of 3)

Series starts 12/14

Game 1: Wednesday, December 14th
Game 2: Wednesday, March 1st
Game 3: Tuesday, March 21st

Hornets 67

(31-27, 12-18 away)

Clippers 89

(33-23, 20-9 home)

    Coverage: FSW

    7:30 PM ET, March 1, 2006

    STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, CA

    1 2 3 4 T
    NO 30 21 8 867
    LAC 25 22 21 2189

    Top Performers

    NO: C. Paul 9 Pts, 8 Reb, 12 Ast, 1 Stl

    LAC: E. Brand 25 Pts, 7 Reb, 5 Ast, 2 Stl, 2 Blk

    Clippers hold Hornets to NBA-low 16 points in second half

    LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Next month will mark six years since Sports Illustrated mocked the Los Angeles Clippers in a feature story that labeled them as the worst franchise in sports history, and put three alleged Clipper fans on the cover with paper bags over their heads.

    This week, the magazine finally got around to praising the Clippers for their turnaround -- four months into their best season in 30 years. Now the bags are off, and so are the gloves.

    Elton Brand scored 25 points, and the Clippers held New Orleans to an NBA record-low 16 points in the second half en route to an 89-67 victory Wednesday night. The Hornets made only one field goal over the final 20 minutes and were outscored 25-0 during one stretch.

    "Looking at the situation coming in, I thought it would be exactly what we have here now," said Mike Dunleavy, in his third season as Clippers coach. "I liked the nucleus, and the commitment that I heard from (management), I felt strongly that this could happen. I believe that you defend first, and I've been preaching this from day one."

    Desmond Mason scored 20 points for the Hornets, who missed 21 consecutive field goal attempts at one point and finished at 36.5 percent while going 0-for-9 from 3-point range. Once the Clippers went to their zone, the Hornets' offense fell into the Twilight Zone.

    "I think it was our communication on defense. When we do that, we're at our best. When we don't communicate, we get our butts whipped. It's just that simple," Sam Cassell said. "In the first half, we weren't communicating properly and they were having their way with us. In the second half, we went to the zone and communicated better, and the result was a 20-point win."

    The Hornets set a franchise record for fewest field goals in a half and lowest field-goal percentage (5-for-34). The 25-0 run was the biggest by a Hornets opponent -- and it came exactly 15 years to the day of the previous mark, a 20-0 run by the SuperSonics at Seattle.

    "It was pretty embarrassing. We played right into their hands," P.J. Brown said. "We weren't aggressive, as far as pushing it up on the break and trying to get easy ones, and we settled for a lot of jump shots. You live and die by that, and we couldn't get anything to fall. We couldn't get any rhythm offensively, and nobody could get a bucket. It was just ugly."

    The previous NBA record of 19 points in a half was shared by the Clippers (against the Lakers), the Miami Heat (against Orlando) -- and the Hornets, against the New York Knicks on November 11, 2000.

    "Having an all-time record under our belts says a lot about this team," Brand said. "We pride ourselves on defense and boxing out. That's what Coach harps on. We watch film on it, trying to improve on it every game."

    Neither team led by more than five points until Brown's 14-footer gave the Hornets a 53-47 margin about a minute into the third quarter. They extended their lead to as many as 10 on Mason's layup with 8:03 left in the period, but the Clippers stunned the visitors with their 25-0 run -- which was capped by Brand's short jumper with 7:42 remaining.

    The Hornets made three of six free throws before ending their field goal drought on Mason's alley-oop dunk off a feed from rookie Chris Paul with 5:45 left. Paul finished with 12 assists and nine points. Dunleavy emptied his bench with 3:08 remaining with an 87-64 cushion, after watching his team outscore New Orleans 38-5 in a 15:55 stretch.

    "I wasn't happy at halftime with them shooting 55 percent, and I got into the guys pretty good," Dunleavy said. "I didn't even know what we had done in that regard until I got in here. I was just oblivious to it. But on the way in, I heard guys saying, `Hey, coach, we held them to a pair of 8s in the second half,' which was pretty amazing."

    Cassell had 15 points and Cuttino Mobley added 14 for the Clippers, who have won three straight after losing a season-worst five in a row. Center Chris Kaman missed his second straight game with a sprained left ankle, and Quinton Ross sat out his seventh in a row due to a sore lower back.

    Game notes

    One of the three games the Hornets will play in New Orleans when they return to their hurricane-ravaged city will be against the Clippers, on March 21 in the rubber match of the three-game season series. ... The players wore their throwback Buffalo Braves jerseys on Elton Brand bobblehead night, and Brand missed his first three shots before finishing 11-for-18. ... Two more Hornets victories will give Byron Scott 200 as an NBA head coach. Scott was a first-round pick by the San Diego Clippers in June 1983, but never played for them. His NBA rights were dealt with Swen Nater to the Lakers for Norm Nixon and Eddie Jordan. Scott ended up winning three championship rings. ... Paul averaged 17.2 points and 9.5 assists in February, making him the first rookie to average at least 17 points and nine assists in any month since Damon Stoudamire did it in March 1996 with Toronto.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 67 89
    FGM-FGA 27-74 (.365) 35-76 (.461)
    3PM-3PA 0-9 (.000) 7-20 (.350)
    FTM-FTA 13-21 (.619) 12-19 (.632)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 6-37 8-41
    Assists 19 28
    Turnovers 14 15
    Steals 6 6
    Blocks 6 9
    Fast Break Points 7 6
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 14 (0/0) 21 (0/0)
    Largest Lead 10 23

    Top Performers

    No/oklahoma City
    Los Angeles
    Chris Paul Paul
    Points: 9
    Reb: 8
    Ast: 12
    Stl: 1
    Blk: 0
    Elton Brand Brand
    Points: 25
    Reb: 7
    Ast: 5
    Stl: 2
    Blk: 2