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Balanced offensive attack fuels Clippers to third straight win

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- It took 7½ professional seasons for Cuttino
Mobley to get 13 rebounds in a game.

He had a simple explanation: "They fell in my lap today."

The 6-foot-4 Mobley also had 15 points and seven assists
Wednesday night to help the Los Angeles Clippers beat the New
Jersey Nets 90-77 for their third straight victory.

"I had 12 a whole bunch of times, 11 a whole bunch of times,"
Mobley said. "Steve used to steal them from me."

Mobley referred to Steve Francis, a teammate in Houston and
Orlando.

"He was in there battling against the big guys," teammate Sam
Cassell said. "He got them. Rebounding is about desire."

Mobley is averaging 4.8 rebounds in 39 games this season and 4.0
in his career.

"Whatever I can do to help the team, I'm going to try to do,"
he said.

Elton Brand scored 10 of his 19 points in the first 5 minutes to
put Los Angeles ahead for good, and Cassell and Chris Kaman added
17 each as the Clippers (23-16) moved within two games of
first-place Phoenix in the Pacific Division.

Brand and Cassell sat out the fourth quarter.

"Cuttino was great on the boards for us," Clippers coach Mike
Dunleavy said. "I thought he gave us a lot of energy.

"We know the importance of winning these type of games that
we've got at home. We've got to continue to do that, fight, claw on
the road, scratch out a few victories."

The Clippers, shooting for their first playoff berth since 1997,
play seven of their next eight games on the road.

"It's really the toughest part of our schedule," Dunleavy
said.

The Clippers shot 48 percent and outrebounded the Nets 49-37.
New Jersey shot 38.2 percent two nights after shooting a season-low
33.3 percent in an 89-78 loss at Utah.

Jason Kidd led the Nets with 19 points and six assists. Richard
Jefferson added 15 points and Nenad Krstic had 12 points and six
rebounds before fouling out with 8:29 remaining.

New Jersey's Vince Carter, averaging 24.6 points, shot 1-of-9
for three points in 27 minutes. He also had four rebounds and five
assists before leaving the game with 2:25 remaining in the third
quarter because of a stiff back, which he injured Monday night at
Utah.

"I was going through the layup line and I felt it get a little
tight," Carter said. "I thought when the game got going, I'd be
all right.

"During the game, I got bumped and the back started to tighten
up and I couldn't get any lift. I told coach (Lawrence Frank) I was
all right and was going to play through it, and I thought it was
going to loosen up, but it never really did."

Kaman, who also had nine rebounds, scored the first six points
of the fourth quarter to give the Clippers a 78-56 lead. The Nets
didn't pose a serious threat after that, and reserves played most
of the final period for both teams.

It was 58-48 before Brand scored five points during a 12-3 run
that put the Clippers ahead 70-51 late in the third quarter.

The teams combined to make 12 of 15 shots to start the game, but
went 5-of-23 to begin the second quarter. The Clippers led by as
many as 13 points in the period before settling for a 43-32
halftime lead.

The Clippers shot their highest percentage in a quarter this
season, going 13-of-18 in the first period for a 27-16 lead. The
Nets made five field goals in the opening 4:09, but just one during
the rest of the first quarter, and were outscored 11-2 in the final
5 minutes.

Game notes
Carter said remarks he made concerning Kobe Bryant's recent
81-point performance weren't meant to be negative. "It takes me
two games to score close to 81," Carter said. "Why should anyone
hate on any player who scores 81 points? I'm sorry anybody took
that out of context. It wasn't meant to be that way." ... The Nets
are 15-9 against Eastern Conference opponents and 7-9 against teams
from the West. ... Dunleavy said he expects F Corey Maggette to be
sidelined at least another month. Maggette, averaging 21.7 points,
has a sprained ligament in his left foot. He has played in only 13
games this season. ... The win was just the third for the Clippers
in their last 12 games against the Nets, who won 99-85 when the
teams met in New Jersey last month behind Carter's 35 points.