Clippers have won four of five

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The Clippers blew another lead and still managed to win.

"It was ugly. We blew a double-digit lead, which we definitely need to improve on," Los Angeles' Elton Brand said Wednesday night after the Clippers outlasted the Portland Trail Blazers 102-98.

"We got the victory, and that's the most important thing. Guys really stepped up. Corey Maggette hit big shots for us in the fourth," he said.

Maggette scored 15 of his 31 points in the final quarter, including a key jumper with 20 seconds left, to give the Clippers their third consecutive win and fourth in five games.

"I was just trying to do something to keep my energy up," said Maggette, who said he didn't feel well in the first half. "Rick (Brunson) made some good passes in there and I attacked the rim. The key was stepping up to the line and making the free throws. We stayed poised to the end and made some big plays."

Maggette was 13-of-13 from the free-throw line.

Brunson had 14 assists, once of which fed Maggette for an 18-footer from the left side that gave the Clippers a late four-point lead.

Portland's Damon Stoudamire then missed a jumper, and Zach Randolph was off on a putback attempt. The Clippers' Chris Kaman rebounded and passed to Brunson, who was intentionally fouled and
made both free throws.

Los Angeles allowed Joel Przybilla an unchallenged dunk as time expired -- one of only three baskets by the Trail Blazers in the final 7:43.

Bobby Simmons added 22 points for Los Angeles, and Brand had 18.

Stoudamire led Portland with 14 points, seven rebounds and six assists, and Derek Anderson had 15 points.

After losing seven of eight during a mid-December slump, the Clippers have gone to 16-15, their first time above .500 this late in a season since 2001-02 -- and only the fourth time in 21 years.

The Trail Blazers, losers of four of their last five, were missing Shareef Abdur-Rahim, who didn't suit up because of a lingering problem with his right elbow. Abdur-Rahim missed six games because of the hyperextended elbow before rejoining the lineup last week.

They also lost Darius Miles for the final 2:43. He hurt his left knee in a collision and limped off the court.

Miles, who had nine points and two assists, said he won't know the extent of the injury until he has an MRI on Thursday.

"It just went out for a minute," he said of his knee. "I hope it's not long. I hope I can play the next game."

Down 96-92 with 2:20 remaining, Randolph hit a jumper before Nick Van Exel drove the lane and looped in a shot to tie it 96-96 with 1:17 remaining.

Van Exel made a pair of 3-pointers and Stoudamire hit another in the final 1:57 of the third quarter to pull the Trail Blazers within 75-72 after they trailed 73-63 with less than two minutes left in the period.

Game notes
The Clippers signed guard Darrick Martin to a 10-day contract Wednesday. Martin, who helped lead to the Clippers to their last playoff appearance eight years ago, was scoreless in 10 minutes. ... Los Angeles placed forward Chris Wilcox on the injured list with soreness in his lower right leg and activated center Mamadou N'Diaye from the injured list.


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