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Clippers end four-game skid, take over eighth place in West

LOS ANGELES -- Elton Brand rejected the notion -- rather forcefully -- that the Golden State Warriors were going to beat out the Los Angeles Clippers for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Brand tied a career high with eight blocked shots, scored 31 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, leading the Clippers to a 103-90 victory over the Warriors on Saturday.

The Clippers jumped over Golden State into eighth place in the West, a half-game ahead of the Warriors and a half-game behind seventh-place New Orleans. Los Angeles has won 11 of the last 15 meetings and six straight at Staples Center.

"Playoff implications were big on this one, so it was good that we leapfrogged them in the standings," Brand said. "Now we need to put a string of games together so we can continue to win."

Brand had eight blocks on three other occasions, including Dec. 31 in a 90-80 home win against the New York Knicks. That also was a day game.

"Elton did such a good job of controlling the paint and blocking shots," Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy said. "It was one of those situations where the defenders on the guys who were driving were doing such a good job, they didn't have a chance to see Elton coming from the back side to block it."

Corey Maggette scored eight of his 18 points in the final 5:18 in his sixth start of the season, helping the Clippers end a four-game losing streak. Tim Thomas had 17 points and 10 rebounds before leaving the game because of back spasms in the fourth quarter.

"They controlled the boards, they controlled the inside, they posted their guards, and they had Brand. We didn't have an answer for any of it," Warriors coach Don Nelson said.

Al Harrington led the Warriors with 24 points. Second-year point guard Monta Ellis, getting more responsibility over the last eight games in the aftermath of Baron Davis' knee surgery, had a career-high 13 assists along with 17 points. Jason Richardson, playing his second game after missing the previous 22 because of a broken bone in his right hand, scored 18 in a reserve role.

Richardson led Golden State to a 51-50 halftime lead with 16 points, but the Warriors self-destructed in the fourth quarter by missing 10 of 15 shots and committing six turnovers.

"We felt like we could still win the game. But they made some big shots and got a couple of three-point plays at the end, and it was hard to keep their momentum down," Warriors swingman Stephen Jackson said. "We hate that it happened, because we stayed in the game for so long."

Neither team led by more than six points until Brand blocked a layup by Ellis and set up a fast break, resulting in two free throws by Maggette that gave Los Angeles an 89-81 lead with 5:18 to play. Harrington committed an offensive foul on the Warriors' next possession, and Maggette converted the turnover into a 16-foot jumper to give the Clippers their first double-digit lead.

"We did an excellent job defensively," Dunleavy said. "They're an athletic, dribble-penetration team with guys who can shoot the ball from 3-point range, so they really stretch your defense."

Clippers swingman Cuttino Mobley, who sat out Tuesday's 25-point home loss against Phoenix because of groin strain, returned to the lineup and scored 15 points in 42 minutes. Sam Cassell, hampered by a pulled abdominal muscle, played just 15 minutes and had four points. Center Chris Kaman missed his second straight game because of flulike symptoms.

Game notes
The sellout crowd of 19,060 observed a moment of silence for Dennis Johnson, a five-time NBA All-Star who was an assistant coach with the Clippers for parts of four seasons before replacing Alvin Gentry as head coach for the final 24 games of the 2002-03 campaign. Johnson died Thursday of a heart attack at age 52. ... This was the fifth time Golden State's starting lineup included Ellis, Harrington, Jackson, Mickael Pietrus and Andris Biedrins -- the only lineup in NBA history comprised entirely of players who did not attend college. ... Biedrins, who came in leading the league with a .612 field goal percentage, was 4-for-4. ... Clippers F Quinton Ross, who scored a career-high 24 points against the Warriors on Jan. 17, has not reached double digits in his last 13 games. ... Twenty of the Clippers' 26 victories have been against teams with losing records. They are 6-19 against teams with winning records.