LOS ANGELES -- After scoring a career-high 39 points in the
Los Angeles Clippers' most important game of the season, Corey
Maggette said he was just grateful to be on the winning side.
And upset about missing seven free throws.
The Clippers won despite Kobe Bryant's 50 points, but Bryant was
held scoreless after making two foul shots with 8:46 remaining to
give the Lakers a 102-92 lead.
Elton Brand added 32 points for the Clippers (38-40), who
snapped a three-game losing streak and moved into a tie with Golden
State for the eighth and final playoff berth in the Western
Conference with four games remaining. Both teams trail the
seventh-place Lakers by 1½ games.
Maggette didn't realize he had reached a career high, but said:
"I should have had 46," referring to his 17-of-24 performance at
the foul line.
"It just feels good to win, man," he added. "We needed it."
As far as Bryant was concerned, Maggette said: "Kobe ran out of
gas. He played 48 minutes."
Bryant didn't agree.
"I felt fine physically. I felt like I could go the distance,"
said Bryant, who missed his last six field goal attempts. "I
didn't feel like my legs were heavy. I didn't feel tired at all.
They just double-teamed me and triple-teamed me. You've got the
advantage when that happens. But we didn't make the plays and they
Bryant's nine 50-point games this season are the most in the NBA
since Wilt Chamberlain scored at least 50 nine times in the 1964-65
season. Chamberlain averaged a record 50.4 points three years
Bryant shot 17-of-33 from the floor and made all 15 of his free
throws. He also had nine rebounds.
Maggette, whose previous career high was 38 points, shot
10-of-15 from the field. He also had eight rebounds and nine
assists to match his career high. Brand scored 22 of his points
after halftime, and added 12 rebounds and seven assists.
Cassell returned after missing four games because of back
spasms, and didn't appear comfortable while scoring two points in
six first-half minutes. It was a different story in the second
half, when he played 14 minutes, including all but 51 seconds of
the fourth quarter.
"I had to get warmed up," he said. "This is strange for me,
coming off the bench. I don't mind having the ball down the
stretch. I can be a decoy and I can make a shot.
"It was a big win for us."
When asked how he felt as he sat in front of his locker, the
37-year-old veteran broke into a wide grin and said: "Ask me
"We got a lead and I guess we got comfortable," Lakers forward
Luke Walton said. "We knew we were playing a team that was
desperate. When you're playing a team that's desperate, you can't
Lakers coach Phil Jackson had said beforehand that both teams
were desperate for a win. The Clippers were more desperate, and it
showed down the stretch.
After Bryant scored his last points, Brand made a three-point
play to trigger a 10-0 run that Maggette capped with another
three-point play, tying the game with 6:34 to play.
Andrew Bynum's foul shot put the Lakers back on top before Tim
Thomas' 3-pointer with 5:41 left gave the Clippers a 105-103 lead --
their first since early in the second quarter. Baskets by Thomas
and Cassell made it 109-103 and completed a 16-1 spurt.
A 3-pointer by Parker -- the Lakers first basket in nearly six
minutes -- drew the Lakers within three, but three foul shots by
Maggette extended the Clippers' lead to six points with 2:04 to go,
and the Lakers weren't closer than five after that.
Game notes: Lakers C Kwame Brown missed his fifth game with a bone
bruise in his left ankle. It's unclear when he'll return, although
Jackson expressed the hope that it will be before the regular
season ends next Wednesday. ... Lakers F Vladimir Radmanovic played
for the first time since separating his right shoulder during the
All-Star break, and went scoreless in 2 minutes. ... The Clippers
are trying to qualify for the playoffs in consecutive years for the
first time since 1992-93. ... Jordan Farmar played in his third
personal doubleheader this month, getting six points and three
assists in 21 minutes for the Lakers' Development League affiliate
Thursday afternoon and going scoreless with two assists in five
minutes for the Lakers at night. ... Official Dan Crawford called a
technical foul on Bryant late in the first quarter. ... The
crosstown rivals split their season series 2-2 for the third
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