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Brand scores season-high 34 as Clippers roll

Jan 21, 2007 - 12:50 AM LOS ANGELES (Ticker) -- In the second quarter, Elton Brand and the Los Angeles Clippers gave the Memphis Grizzlies the third degree.

Brand scored 15 of his season-high 34 points in a huge second period as the Clippers demolished the league-worst Grizzlies, 112-91, for third straight win in the series.

Sam Cassell had 21 points and a season-high 14 assists for Los Angeles, which has alternated consecutive wins and losses in its last eight games. The Clippers last won three in a row in the series in 1997, when the Grizzlies were in Vancouver.

"We played with a vengeance tonight," Cassell said. "We played with that will and passion. That's how you win games."

After a slow start this season, Brand is heating up. The two-time All-Star power forward has led the Clippers in scoring in three straight games and made 13-of-23 shots against the Grizzlies, controlling the interior.

"I feel good," Brand said. "We've won two in a row at home and that is very good for our confidence. Coach has been focusing on these games and taking them one at a time. But we have played well in this past five-game stretch and we are really in the thick of the playoff hunt."

"You saw the difference in the second half because they came to double the pass to (Brand)," Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy said. "You have to make the defense pay the price for that and that is one of the reasons we went to the pick-and-roll, so he could get catches while we spaced the floor and moved the ball."

The Grizzlies held a 28-24 lead after one period and still owned a 33-30 advantage on a 3-pointer by Chucky Atkins before the Clippers erupted with a pair of prolonged spurts.

Daniel Ewing fueled the first with a jumper and two free throws. Chris Kaman had a pair of buckets and Cassell's three-point play capped the 13-2 burst at 43-35 with 7:07 left in the first half.

Brand got going, sharing all the points in a 13-1 run with Cuttino Mobley. His three-point play, layup and jumper helped extend the advantage to 55-38 with 3:04 to go.

"The biggest thing for us to do is establish (Brand) early," Kaman said. "He is the guy we trust and the guy we are going to go to with the ball, make sure he gets his shots. He is the guy we rely on so we have to start off with him."

In the second quarter, the Clippers scored 39 points on 16-of-24 shooting with just one turnover. The Grizzlies managed 12 on 4-of-17 shooting with seven turnovers and were outscored by Brand, who made 6-of-7 shots in the period.

"Bad execution, turnovers means we weren't focused enough on defense," Memphis forward Pau Gasol said. "We had so many breakdowns on defense which led to a big disadvantage for us."

Cassell scored nine points in the third quarter, keeping the lead at 89-68 entering the final period. The veteran point guard was injured earlier in the season but is rounding into form.

"I have been talking with Mike that I need to get the ball back in my hands more often," Cassell said. "Everyone understands that I haven't been healthy all year. They have had to play without me and that makes our two-man game (with Brand) that much more potent when we are both out there."

"It's like pick your poison," Brand said. "His mid-range (shot) is a little bit better than mine. He hits those foul-line shots and everyone knows that. Now I'm good with my mid-range game. Now you have to defend both of us."

The Clippers nearly squandered a 23-point lead in Wednesday's win over Golden State but did not allow Memphis back into this contest.

"Last game we let slip a little, but tonight we paid a little more attention to detail to really put teams away," Brand said. "When we play upper-echelon teams, you can't give those guys a second chance or they will come and take the game away from us."

Kaman scored 12 points and Mobley and Corey Maggette added 11 apiece for the Clippers, who finished at 51 percent (46-of-90) while attempting just five 3-pointers and held a 43-35 advantage in rebounds.

Gasol scored 27 points for the Grizzlies (10-31), who committed 21 turnovers and lost for the fourth time in five games.

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