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After missing three weeks, Cassell nets 31 to sting Hornets

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Elton Brand can sympathize with what the
New Orleans Hornets are going through. He's just glad his Clippers
teammates were the ones that got back from their injuries first.

Sam Cassell scored 31 points, Cuttino Mobley added 20 and Los
Angeles started to look healthy again in a 100-90 win Monday night
against the Hornets.

"We haven't had our team in eight or nine games," Brand said.
"Now we have a team and we're building on our season."

Playing for the first time in three weeks, Cassell scored 10
points during the Clippers' decisive 17-3 fourth-quarter surge,
including a 3-pointer that gave Los Angeles the lead for good at
79-77 with 9:12 to play. He sandwiched another 3-pointer between
two jumpers, and Mobley added a jumper for a 91-80 Clippers lead.

Cassell had missed seven games with plantar fasciitis in his
left heel before returning against the Hornets, and Mobley
hyperextended his left elbow last week at Miami.

They showed no mercy against the Hornets, who are without
injured starters Chris Paul (sprained ankle), Peja Stojakovic (back
surgery) and David West (right elbow surgery).

"It's about playing with confidence. It's about having that
attitude. It's about bringing that swagger," Cassell said. "I'm
going to bring that swagger every night. That's what it's all
about.

"If we continue to do that -- have that swagger, keep our
composure and just play hard -- the key to our success is how hard
we play."

Desmond Mason led New Orleans with 28 points for the second
straight game, picking up his first consecutive 20-point games
since his final three games with Milwaukee at the end of the
2004-05 season.

It wasn't enough to prevent the Hornets from getting swept on a
four-game homestand for the first time since March, when they lost
three games in Oklahoma City and one in New Orleans. The last time
the Hornets lost four home games in the same city was from Jan. 26
to Feb. 4, 1994 in Charlotte.

"Our mistakes are beginning to be the same things over and over
again. That is the thing that is bothering me," Hornets coach
Byron Scott said. "We are putting too much pressure on ourselves
when the game is on the line, and we are making too many mental
mistakes, too many physical mistakes."

The Hornets committed six of their 15 turnovers in the fourth
quarter and shot only 33 percent in the final period.

Brand knows that feeling. Fighting through injuries to Cassell,
Mobley and Corey Maggette, the Clippers gave up double-digit leads
in losses to Orlando and Washington on their current six-game road
trip.

"It's tough," said Brand, who finished with 18 points and 12
rebounds. "You find a way to lose."

Getting healthier, the Clippers won for the first time in 12
tries when trailing after three quarters on the road. Brand said
the next step is improving on their 16-19 record and shedding
questions like "Is it over?"

"I thought that was ridiculous because we haven't played with
our whole unit yet," Brand said, adding: "I think we can make a
run."

Devin Brown and Rasual Butler each scored 14 points, and Tyson
Chandler had a double-double with 13 points and 13 rebounds for New
Orleans.

New Orleans led by as many as 13 in the opening minutes of the
second quarter but Los Angeles cut it to 51-49 by closing the half
on a 12-4 run.

Cassell tied it on Los Angeles' first possession of the second
half, and the Clippers then claimed a 57-53 lead after back-to-back
3-pointers by Mobley and Cassell.

New Orleans answered with a 20-6 run that included eight points
from Mason, and Chandler's spinning, left-handed layup put the
Hornets up 73-63. Los Angeles then finished the third quarter on a
nine-point burst to get back within one before maintaining momentum
into the fourth.

Game notes
Los Angeles' Tim Thomas got a technical foul with 10:48
left in the second quarter for cursing at an official after being
called for his third foul in 3 minutes of playing time. ... Hornets
G Bobby Jackson, who missed 16 games with a cracked left rib, is
expected to have an MRI exam on Tuesday to determine what is
causing him back pain. He scored seven points in 10 minutes
Thursday against Detroit but hasn't played in New Orleans' last two
games. ... The Clippers signed G Luke Jackson, a former first-round
pick out of Oregon, to a 10-day contract. He did not play. ...
Attendance was 15,501, the lowest yet for a regularly scheduled
game in Oklahoma City. The only lower total was 14,554 last January
for a game moved from Baton Rouge, La., on short notice.