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Brand's season-high 29 hands Hornets first home loss

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- With his team on the brink of letting a
strong road effort slip away, Elton Brand decided to take matters
into his own hands.

Brand scored 13 of a season-high 29 points in the fourth quarter
as the Los Angeles Clippers handed the New Orleans Hornets their
first home loss of the season, 94-90 on Monday night.

Brand, surpassing 20 points for the sixth straight game, scored
seven straight points after Baron Davis' 3-pointer gave New Orleans
an 81-79 lead.

"I said, OK, they're up now. If I'm open, shoot,'' Brand said.
"I'm just getting a stroke going. We have a lot of plays called
for me and I'm just getting some confidence.''

Clippers coach Alvin Gentry said he wanted the ball in Brand's
hands even though he had played all but two minutes.

"He doesn't get much rest, but he's a warrior,'' Gentry said.
"When were struggling and really needed a basket, he was the
guy.''

The Hornets, meanwhile, uncharacteristically fell apart in the
final three minutes, turning the ball over twice and missing a pair
of long jump shots.

Jamal Mashburn, who started 2-for-16 shooting, suddenly got hot,
hitting a 3-pointer and a couple of jump shots between Clippers
free throws to pull New Orleans within 92-90 with eight seconds
left.

But Quentin Richardson, after being fouled on the ensuing
inbound pass, made pair of free throws to put the game away.

The Hornets had won their first 11 home games and the loss also
snapped a four-game winning streak. The Clippers have won three
straight.

"This is the best we've played against a team of this caliber,
especially considering that we played on the road,'' Gentry said.

Andre Miller scored 18 for Los Angeles, including some key free
throws in the final minute, and Richardson added 16.

Davis led New Orleans with 33 but fouled out chasing a loose
ball in the final minute. David Wesley scored 16, including four
3-pointers, and Mashburn had nine of his 15 points in the fourth
quarter. He was 5-of-20 from the field.

The Clippers started off numerous Hornets possession by playing
man-to-man, but would switch to a zone when the Hornets set up
their offense in an effort to ensure they had help against
Mashburn.

"It's pretty hard to guard him one-on-one. We switched to zone
and it helped us,'' Gentry said. "He made some tough shots down
the stretch but you can't do anything about that.''

The Clippers also outrebounded New Orleans 46-31.

"We just got annihilated on the boards,'' Hornets coach Paul
Silas said.

After taking an 11-6 lead, the Hornets began to have trouble
getting the ball inside on the Clippers' zone defense. New Orleans
couldn't hit an outside shot either -- a combination that allowed
Los Angeles to go on a 19-4 run and take a 25-15 lead.

The Hornets scored a season-low 15 points in the first quarter
and hit only 10 of their first 31 shots.

"We think we should have won the game but it was ugly from the
start. We had no perimeter game and no penetration to the hole,''
Hornets forward P.J. Brown said. "They just seemed to get crucial
rebounds and just seemed to want the game and they got it.''

Everything went right early on for the Clippers, who shot 49
percent for the first half. Cherokee Parks, who had one field goal
on the season coming in, hit a 20-foot jumper and had a dunk that
put Los Angeles ahead 36-22. Brand had 14 points in the first half.

Mashburn started 0-for-7 shooting, while Wesley started 0-of-5.
But Wesley hit four straight shots -- three of them 3-pointers --
late in the second quarter to pull New Orleans within 43-35 at
halftime.

New Orleans came back with a 9-0 run early in the third quarter
and stayed close until Wesley's fourth 3-pointer put New Orleans
briefly in the lead at 58-57.

Game notes
Brand fell short of 12 rebounds for only the first time in
five games. He had seven. ... Davis became the latest guard to
break 30 points against the Clippers this season. Orlando's Tracy
McGrady and New Jersey's Jason Kidd have done it twice, while the
Lakers' Kobe Bryant, Houston's Steve Francis and Sacramento's Bobby
Jackson have done it once each. ... The loss for New Orleans also
was its first in six games against Western Conference teams.