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  Tuesday, Nov. 2 10:30pm ET
Clippers get clipped in arena debut

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- "Mad Max" made it a long night for the Los Angeles Clippers as they officially christened their new home.

Vernon Maxwell, playing his first game in a Seattle uniform after 765 in many others, scored 11 of his 29 points in the fourth quarter Tuesday night as the SuperSonics opened the season with a 104-92 victory over the Clippers.

A crowd of 17,847 watched the first regular-season NBA game at the Staples Center -- far above the Clippers' usual home attendance since they moved to Los Angeles before the 1984-85 season.

"I just tried to bring some energy off the bench," said Maxwell, who scored his first 18 points in the second quarter. "I had a good night. I know they're counting on me, they know what I can do."

The Sonics have beaten the Clippers nine straight times, and have a 23-1 record against them dating back to February 1994. Seattle has won 13 of the last 14 games between the teams in Los Angeles.

Gary Payton had 22 points, 13 assists and six rebounds; Vin Baker 17 points and 12 rebounds, and Ruben Patterson a career-high 12 points and nine rebounds for the Sonics.

"It starts with Gary Payton, he's really at the top of his game and is a real fit with the rest of the team," Sonics coach Paul Westphal said. "The thing I'm most encouraged about is we shot 39 percent and blew them out."

About Maxwell, who played 28 minutes, Westphal said, "That's why we got him. He really carried us in the second quarter. We just threw him the ball and got out of the way."

Rookie Lamar Odom led the Clippers with 30 points and 12 rebounds. Derek Anderson added 19 points and Tyrone Nesby scored 16.

Maurice Taylor, plagued by foul trouble, had 14 points in 26 minutes for the Clippers. He fouled out with 8:29 remaining.

Maxwell, a 34-year-old sharpshooter who has played with seven NBA teams including San Antonio twice, signed with the Sonics as a free agent. Thanks to his second-quarter effort, Seattle outscored the Clippers 37-26 in the period for a 62-48 halftime lead.

Seattle led by as many as 18 points in the third quarter before settling for an 88-75 lead entering the final period.

Maxwell, who sat out the third quarter, clinched the victory by scoring nine straight points to put the Sonics ahead 101-83 with 5:39 remaining.

"We knew he was going to do that, Vern is a shooter," Payton said of Maxwell. "He kept strokin' it. That's what we need from him. At one point, I called his play five times in a row."

Clippers coach Chris Ford pointed to his team's transition defense as a problem.

"If we do not get that together, we are in for a long season," he said.

Odom got off to a slow start, scoring only four points in the first quarter. He began the game wearing a white headband, but removed it before the opening period was over.

He scored 10 points in the second quarter and 12 more in the third period before being held to four in the fourth.

"I was just trying to play, stay focused, stay in it," Odom said. "We didn't do a good job of that tonight, but there's 81 more games. Gary Payton just controlled the tempo of the game and got everybody involved.

"Our halfcourt defense was atrocious. It was just a bad all-around game for this team. But we're young and we're hungry, so we're going to fight back."

The Sonics scored five straight points -- three by Patterson -- to snap a 14-all tie and go ahead for good. Patterson had nine points and five rebounds in the first quarter, which ended with Seattle on top 25-22.

Game notes
The Clippers, who played most of their home games at the Sports Arena the last 15 seasons, split two preseason games at the Staples Center. ... The Los Angeles Lakers play their first game at the $375 million arena, which seats 18,964 for basketball, on Wednesday night against Vancouver. ... The Sonics had a 25-25 record during the lockout-shortened 1999 season, and failed to make the playoffs for the first time in nine years. They averaged 59+ wins during the previous six seasons, and were 61-21 in 1997-98. ... The Clippers were 9-41 last season, tying an NBA record for futility at the start of a season by losing their first 17 games. ... Each team had three new players in their starting lineups -- Patterson, Horace Grant and Brent Barry for the Sonics, and Eric Murdock, Anderson and Odom for the Clippers. ... As a rookie with the Lakers last season, Patterson had a single-game high of 11 points.

NBA Scoreboard

Seattle Clubhouse

LA Clippers Clubhouse

Washington 94
Atlanta 87

Charlotte 100
Orlando 86

Miami 128
Detroit 122

Indiana 119
New Jersey 112

New York 92
Cleveland 84

San Antonio 89
Philadelphia 76

Boston 103
Toronto 90

Dallas 108
Golden State 96

Milwaukee 98
Houston 93

Denver 107
Phoenix 102

Seattle 104
LA Clippers 92

LA Lakers 91
Utah 84

Portland 106
Vancouver 86