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Clippers get first win over Kings since January 2003

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- There was plenty of talk after the Los
Angeles Clippers ended a 14-game losing streak to the Sacramento
Kings. None of it came from Corey Maggette, who did a good job
advertising himself in the midst of trade rumors.

Elton Brand scored 22 points and Maggette added 21 in the
Clippers' 102-93 victory Friday night in a matchup of the Pacific
Division's two worst teams.

It was the Clippers' first victory over the Kings since Jan. 18,
2003, when they won 112-107 in Los Angeles. The Kings' string of
victories was the third-longest overall in the league.

"The streak's over," Brand said. "There's no better time to
win than right now. We've been struggling, so it's a big win for
us."

Los Angeles had lost seven of its last nine and 14 of 20.

Mike Bibby scored 26 points to lead the Kings, who had their
two-game winning streak snapped. Brad Miller added 15 and Kevin
Martin 14.

The game between Western Conference underachievers included the
disgruntled duo of Maggette and Sacramento's Ron Artest, who was
held to five points and three rebounds after scoring 28 in the
Kings' win last month over the Clippers.

There have been reports that Sacramento may deal Artest to the
Clippers for Maggette, who is unhappy about his playing time and
has asked his agent to pursue a trade.

"I don't know how true those rumors were, but I was able to
focus," Artest said. "Sac's been good to me. I enjoy it. But it's
always good to know that another organization wants you. I know Tim
Thomas, Elton Brand is a good friend of mine and Corey Maggette's a
good friend of mine."

Maggette came in averaging 14.8 points -- his lowest since
2001-02. He added seven rebounds and hit all seven of his free
throws.

He didn't appear at his locker to speak with reporters
afterward.

"Just because something is on TV or in the rumor mill, it's not
anything until it happens," Brand said. "I've been talking to the
guys about being professional like they are, especially Corey
Maggette, just coming out and playing his game and not worried
about that stuff because he can't change it."

Brand has been fielding questions about what it would be like to
play with Artest.

"Until something happens, I'm worried about the players I
have," he said. "I'd rather have Michael Jordan in his hey (day)
if I'm just going to speculate."

Former Clipper Maurice Taylor said the trade rumors haven't been
a distraction.

"I don't think it's having any effect on us at all because you
don't know if anything will come to fruition," he said.
"Obviously, if we lost one of our better players, it would be
tough for the team. But you just leave that up to the front office.
They're trying to make the team better."

The Clippers gained their first double-digit lead of the game
with a 17-5 run in the third quarter. Brand scored eight in a row
and Maggette's basket capped the spurt that made it 67-56.

Maggette and Mobley teamed for a 7-0 scoring spree and a pair of
free throws by James Singleton extended the Clippers' lead to
80-64. Bibby and Francisco Garcia hit 3-pointers that drew the
Kings within 11 heading into the fourth quarter.

"The 12-minute stretch in the third quarter was the game,"
Kings coach Eric Musselman said. "Every quarter was tight with the
exception of the third. In the first half, we did a solid job
rebounding and things turned as soon as they went to the backboard
stronger."

No player on either team had double-digits in rebounds, although
the Clippers owned a 38-34 edge.

Brand's domination didn't extend into the final quarter, when
the scoring load was spread around. The Kings got within seven
twice before the Clippers pushed their lead to 13 points on
consecutive baskets by Chris Kaman and Maggette.

Bibby ran off seven in a row on layups and two free throws to
draw the Kings to 97-90 with 3½ minutes left.

But the Clippers didn't fold under the weight of their losing
streak. Thomas and Cuttino Mobley scored on consecutive possessions
for a 101-90 lead. Mobley finished with 17 points, Kaman had 14 and
Thomas 11.

The Kings went to Bibby again, and he responded with a jumper.
He missed on his next trip down, but Miller got fouled going for
the rebound and made one of two as Sacramento trailed 101-93.

Bibby got hit with a technical after he appeared to trip heading
downcourt and Maggette made the free throw to close out the win.

Game notes
The Kings fell to 4-2 on Fridays, with every game on the
road. ... They failed to win three in a row in December. ... The
Kings opened their eighth set of back-to-back games, going 4-4 in
the first game. They play Golden State on Saturday night. ...
Sacramento has had 20 or more assists in each of the last four
games. ... Clippers G Sam Cassell was out for the fifth time in
nine games because of plantar fasciitis in his left heel. ... C
Kaman is sporting a short, conservative 'do after getting his long,
stringy blond hair cut on the team's recent road trip. "He's not
as intimidating as before. He looks like a little collegiate boy,
but I like it," Brand said. "Now they attack him more, but he's
blocking more shots."