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


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


"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


"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


"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.