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Brand scores 32 as Clippers top Knicks

Jan 1, 2007 - 12:24 AM LOS ANGELES (Ticker) -- Elton Brand was dominant on both ends of the floor to cap a terrific month.

Brand scored 32 points and tied a career high with eight blocked shots and Shaun Livingston added 15 points to lead the Los Angeles Clippers to a 90-80 triumph over the New York Knicks.

A two-time All-Star, Brand made 13-of-18 shots in his fourth consecutive 20-point performance and finished the month averaging 21.9 points. He led the way as the Clippers won their eighth straight home meeting against the Knicks since March 25, 1998.

"We wanted to be aggressive," Brand said. "We wanted to win this game. It was a must win for us. We are comfortable with us now. Guys are comfortable in their roles right now and we are playing better defensively."

Brand opened the contest with consecutive baskets and hit seven of his first nine shots - including a three-point play - to score 15 points and give the Clippers a 23-15 lead midway through the opening period.

"He had it going from the outside today," Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy said. "I was a little disappointed with the team because we didn't get him the ball more often. Whenever you have anyone with a hot hand, you have to feed him the ball."

Corey Maggette carried the scoring load in the second quarter with 10 points, including a three-point play and a dunk, to help extend Los Angeles' margin to 51-38 at halftime.

"It was important in general just to get some wins," Maggette said of his team's three-game winning streak. "Losing gets you down and out but we made a big run (and) a big push for this team and hopefully we can just move on from there and go out to the East Coast and do a better job."

The Clippers continued to gradually pull away in the third period. Brand scored six points and Livingston converted a three-point play and finished the quarter with a layup and a jumper for a 74-55 advantage.

"We are still trying to find ourselves," Livingston said. "We haven't beat any teams that we weren't supposed to beat. We have to come into our own both offensively and defensively. These wins help us, especially getting ready to get on the road."

Maggette scored 14 points, Cuttino Mobley added 11 and Chris Kaman grabbed 13 rebounds for the Clippers, who raised their home record to 12-6.

"Our early-season woes came about because of our defense," Brand said. "Our defense was what we prided ourselves in last year and that's what kept us in ballgames. The offensive will come along. We have to be out there deflecting balls, blocking shots and rebounding."

After opening their five-game road trip by shooting 37 percent (34-of-91) from the floor in Friday's loss to the Phoenix Suns, the Knicks again struggled, shooting less than 35 percent (29-of-84) against the Clippers.

"When we shoot the way we shot, not shooting the ball well and putting the ball in the hole, you aren't going to win in the NBA," Knicks coach Isiah Thomas said.

"They were coming from everywhere tonight and I was a little out of my rhythm," New York center Eddy Curry said after making 5-of-13 shots. "I have to try and work on some things and be more effective on the double-team."

Curry scored 15 points, Stephon Marbury added 14 and rookie Mardy Collins a season-high 11 in his return from a six-game suspension for his role in a brawl with the Denver Nuggets on December 16.

"They scored 90 points," Thomas said. "If they score 90 points and we make our shots, it should be good enough to win that game. If you do not make shots, you are not going to win."

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