Clippers pass last year's win total, beat Sixers

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The Los Angeles Clippers were determined to
come back strong from one of their most lopsided defeats of the
season, and they did it with defense. Not having Allen Iverson to
deal with certainly helped.

Elton Brand had 24 points and 10 rebounds, Cuttino Mobley had 20
points against his hometown team, and the Clippers blocked a
season-high 13 shots Friday night in a 99-89 victory over the
Philadelphia 76ers.

"We wanted to protect the paint -- especially after that last
game," Brand said. "We didn't protect the paint at all against
Phoenix, and those guys got layups and easy shots. So we wanted to
contest a lot of shots, and we got some opportunities."

Iverson, the NBA's No. 2 scorer, missed his third straight game
because of a sprained ankle and bruised foot. Philadelphia is 40-63
without him in the lineup, including the playoffs, and 2-5 this
season. The four-time NBA scoring champ leads the league with an
average of 43.3 minutes per game.

"Certainly you have to make adjustments on the offensive end,"
Sixers coach Maurice Cheeks said. "When you have a player like
that in the fourth quarter, you have a tendency to look for him and
realize he has that ability to take over a game. On the defensive
end, he creates some turnovers for us and easy baskets. And we
haven't gotten as many with him out of the lineup."

The Clippers didn't miss Iverson at all.

"Without him, it's like 30 points that's gone. So you can't
really make that up," Corey Maggette said. "You need to have a
lot of players make that up, and they just can't do it right now."

With their 38th win, the Clippers surpassed their total from
last season. Four more victories in their final 18 games would
clinch only their second winning season since 1978-79, when the
team was based in San Diego. The other one was 1991-92, when they
finished 45-37 and made the playoffs.

The Clippers have gotten into the postseason two other times
since then with records of 41-41 and 36-46.

Chris Webber had 19 points and nine rebounds for the 76ers, who
have lost six of their last seven and are three games under .500
for the first time since Dec. 8 (8-11). They have lost 10 of their
last 12 road meetings with the Clippers.

"They don't usually push that type of tempo for 48 minutes, but
they did to have us expend some energy," Cheeks said. "We got
back in the game a little bit, but never really threatened enough
to have a chance."

Four-year veteran John Salmons, starting at point guard for
Iverson, had a career-high 12 assists along with 10 points in 38
minutes. All five Philadelphia starters scored in double figures,
but their reserves were outscored 36-15 by the Clippers' bench.

"It's been great having that bench threat," Brand said. "We
haven't had that the entire season, so to have all those guys
coming off the bench -- not only holding a lead but sometimes adding
to a lead and playing defense -- it's great for the starters."

Vladimir Radmanovic scored 13 points, helping Los Angeles win
for the fifth time in six games. His layup and 3-pointer early in
the fourth quarter gave the Clippers an 87-68 lead, and
Philadelphia got no closer than the final margin.

"It's great having Radmanovic," Maggette said. "He opens up
the floor so much. And when he's hitting shots like that, it just
makes our team a lot better. We've got a lot of scorers coming off
the bench right now."

Los Angeles' reserves outscored Philadelphia's bench 21-4 in the
first half, offsetting 17 points by Webber and helping the Clippers
take a 53-44 lead at intermission.

The 76ers are eighth in the Eastern Conference, two games ahead
of idle Chicago, and are the only team among the top eight in
either conference with a losing record (31-34).

Game notes
Sixers C Steven Hunter was saddened to hear about the death
of legendary DePaul coach Ray Meyer on Friday at age 92. He
attended Meyer's basketball camp at Three Lakes, Wis., as an
eighth-grader, and also met him a couple of times at team banquets
during his two seasons with the Blue Demons. "He was a great man
and a great teacher," Hunter said. "You really wanted to be in
his presence because he had so much knowledge. He told us to learn
all you can, learn from all your experiences, keep them in your
head and use them. He told us to always grow as a person and never
stay the same. He was just a pleasure to be around."

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