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L.A. recovers after blowing 21-point lead

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Rick Brunson finished his first start in over
three years with a flourish, helping the Los Angeles Clippers avoid
their most embarrassing loss in the Mike Dunleavy era.

Brunson scored 11 of his 18 points in overtime, Bobby Simmons
tied a career high with 30 points, and the Clippers beat the lowly
New Orleans Hornets 100-91 in overtime Tuesday night after blowing
a 21-point, third-quarter lead.

Dunleavy started a backcourt of Brunson and Quinton Ross because
of injuries to Corey Maggette and Marko Jaric. Maggette aggravated
a groin strain and Jaric sprained his right foot during practice
Monday.

"It was great to be out there," Brunson said. "It's too bad
that Marko went down with an injury, but we were able to overcome
that and win. Mike's confidence in me is in running the team, and I
thought I did a poor job of that the last four minutes of the
fourth quarter, so I was glad to redeem myself."

Brunson started for the first time since Nov. 27, 2001, at
Portland, when Dunleavy was the Trail Blazers' coach. Ross made his
third start this season, but left the court for good with 5:40 left
in the first quarter because of a hip injury.

Ross was replaced by rookie Lionel Chalmers, who played 44
minutes -- eight more than he totaled in his other five games.
Chalmers shot 3-for-12 with eight points and six assists. He had
only five minutes of action in the Clippers' previous 17 games.

"The guys who weren't getting much playing time were focused
and ready to play," Simmons said. "Lionel Chalmers gave us a
great push and Rick gave us a big lift."

The Clippers, who dropped 10 of their previous 13 meetings with
the Hornets, ended a five-game losing streak. Elton Brand had 23
points and 13 rebounds.

David Wesley scored 16 of his 22 points in the third quarter and
Lee Nailon had 21 for the Hornets, whose 2-22 record is the worst
in the NBA and the worst start in the franchise's 16-year history.
The 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers, who set the NBA record for futility
by going 9-73, also started 2-22.

The Hornets, who haven't finished with a losing record since
1992-93, have four fewer wins than the first-year Charlotte
Bobcats.

The Clippers opened overtime with a 13-2 run, started by
Brunson's second 3-pointer. Brand followed with a 10-foot fadeaway
bank shot, Simmons hit a 13-footer, and Brunson added a pair of 3s
to finish the spurt.

Simmons' dunk gave the Clippers their biggest lead, 58-37, with
7:54 left in the third quarter. But the Hornets outscored Los
Angeles 17-1 over the final 3:20 of the period.

Wesley paced the rally with 14 points in a 4:55 span, draining
six perimeter shots -- including a pair of 3-pointers. The Clippers
went back up by eight on Simmons' short jumper with 5:12 in
regulation, but the Hornets scored the next nine points, including
a pair of free throws by Wesley to take their first lead, 77-76,
with 1:15 remaining in regulation.

"We knew they were going to make a push, and that David Wesley
was going to make some shots eventually," Simmons said. "When a
guy gets going like that, it's hard to slow him down. But we
contained him in overtime."

Simmons countered Wesley's offensive outburst with a 3-pointer
before Chris Andersen's two free throws tied it with 35 seconds
left. Brand's fadeaway jumper put the Clippers back in front 81-79
with 13.5 seconds remaining, but P.J. Brown drained a 19-footer
with four seconds left. Wesley missed a 10-foot jumper at the
buzzer.

"I was really just being aggressive, taking some shots I
normally wouldn't take in this offense," Wesley said. But at that
point we just wanted to try and figure out a way to get back in
this game, and I got into a good rhythm at the right time. But the
one shot I really needed to hit was that runner at the end of
regulation."

Clippers forward Kerry Kittles was placed on the injured list
Tuesday and is expected to miss at least two weeks because of a
bulging disc in his back.

The Hornets have five players on the injured list -- including
Jamal Mashburn and Alex Garcia, who are out for the season.

Point guard Baron Davis, the Hornets' leading scorer, was
activated Monday after missing 18 games with a back injury but he
didn't play.

Game notes
The Clippers started 2-22 in 1998-99, 3-21 in 1994-95, 4-20
in 1986-87, and 4-20 in 1982-83. ... There have been 34 overtime
games this season in the NBA after only 71 last season. The
Clippers are 2-4 in OT. ... Davis has played in only five games
this season after missing 15 last season with a sprained left ankle
and 24 in 2002-03 because of knee and back problems. The Hornets
are 26-40 without him.