Brand, who is in his fifth season with Los Angeles, was more
immediately concerned with the future than his team's past in
"We're 1-0 for the new year and we're not looking back," he
said. "We won tonight so that's all we're looking at."
The Clippers led by as many as 16 points in the first half, then
withstood two spirited second-half Portland rallies.
The Blazers' final effort narrowed the gap to 89-87 on Theo
Ratliff's dunk with 2:15 left. After the teams traded baskets,
Cuttino Mobley hit two free throws to make it 93-89 for the
Juan Dixon's 13-foot jumper closed the Blazers in again, but Sam
Cassell hit an 18-foot jumper with 30 seconds left and Mobley added
a free throw.
Dixon hit a 3-pointer with 17 seconds left to make it 96-94 and
put the crowd on its feet, before Chris Kaman made four straight
free throws for the final margin.
The Clippers had lost 12 straight in Portland since an 89-83 win
on April 11, 1999, and 26 of 29 since the start of the 1991-92
After getting off to a 10-5 start this November, the Clippers
went 6-7 in December, wrapping up the month with a 111-92 loss to
the Boston Celtics on Saturday.
Cassell had 24 points against Boston before leaving the game in
the fourth quarter with a sprained ankle. He returned to start
Sunday for the Clippers, scoring 22 points. Mobley had 23 points.
"I've taken it up a notch, but having Cuttino and Sam have to
be defended opens it up for me. When they hit like this it's like,
pick your poison," Brand said.
Dixon had 24 points for the Blazers, who were coming off
Friday's 93-90 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies, which snapped a
season-high three-game winning streak.
The Blazers were 3-for-10 from the free throw line, a franchise
low. The previous low was four, which has happened on three
"We've got to play better defense," Portland coach Nate
McMillan said. "We can't keep digging holes for ourselves early in
the game then try to fight our way out of it."
The Trail Blazers remained without point guard Sebastian
Telfair, who has been out the last nine games with a right thumb
sprain. Telfair was practicing with the team but did not play
Portland center Joel Przybilla returned to the team after
missing two games with a sore right knee.
The Clippers took off on a 16-2 run in the second quarter, going
up 44-28 on Shaun Livingston's reverse layup.
The Clippers led 55-46 at halftime, but the Blazers opened the
second half with a 12-4 run to narrow it to 59-58.
Portland couldn't sustain the rally to take over, and the
Clippers rebuilt their lead to 82-68 early in the final quarter.
"When it's tough like that you've got to crack down on
defense," Blazers forward Ruben Patterson said. "We didn't and
they got some easy shots."
Randolph finished with 18 points and 11 rebounds.
Telfair could play as early as Tuesday when the Blazers
visit Dallas. ... McMillan, who played for the SuperSonics, holds
the record for the most assists (25, on Feb. 26, 1987) by a