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Mobley, Hart lead Clippers over undermanned Blazers

Apr 1, 2007 - 6:00 AM PORTLAND, Oregon (Ticker) -- Cuttino Mobley and Jason Hart continue to be a formidable backcourt combination for the surging Los Angeles Clippers.

Mobley scored 25 points and Hart added 14, eight rebounds and five assists as the Clippers posted their sixth win in their last seven games, a 99-86 victory over the shorthanded Portland Trail Blazers.

Elton Brand scored 21 points for Los Angeles (36-37), which moved into a tie with idle Denver (35-36) for seventh in the Western Conference. Both teams are two games ahead of Golden State (34-39) with nine contests left.

"We just want to push, man, we want to push (to the playoffs)," Mobley said. "This is exciting right now. This time of the year, this is where you are supposed to be at. You are supposed to be playing like this."

Brand thinks the team needs to keep its foot on the gas.

"If it wasn't for a miss here or there in the Houston game, it would be seven in a row," Brand said. "We are playing well and we are in tune and we are doing what we got to get a playoff spot, not just eighth. We are in the seven spot and we are going to try and do whatever we can to keep on winning."

Los Angeles snapped a 17-game road losing streak against Sacramento with a 105-101 win on Friday. Mobley had 26 points and Hart added 16 and seven assists as the duo continues to gel down the stretch of the season.

The 30-year-old Hart has stepped into a starting role with young floor general Shaun Livingston out for the season and veteran Sam Cassell battling nagging injuries.

"Jason has been a godsend," Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy said. "I mean, being able to find a veteran guy who we like. He's an LA kid, and we see him play all summer. We like him. He's a tough kid. He plays hard all the time and the right way. When we had an opportunity to get him, we jumped all over it. He's obviously been really big for us."

On Saturday, Hart shot an efficient 5-of-7 from the field and put together a stellar floor game. Mobley was 8-of-16 from the floor, including 4-of-6 from the arc.

"This is urgency for us," Mobley said. "I'm just shooting the ball, you know what I mean? Just like in Houston, taking over when it's time to take over.

"The ball has been moving around pretty good for about the last month, and that's a good thing. We got a lot of guys around here that can do things, so it makes it a lot easier for me and everyone else."

The Clippers took control of the game early, opening a 38-18 cushion after one quarter. They led by as many as 25 points in the third quarter.

But Portland attempted to rally, using a 16-2 run to bridge the third and fourth quarters, capped by Travis Outlaw's jumper to pull within 85-72 with 8:40 remaining.

Rookie Brandon Roy scored 23 points for the Blazers, who played their first game without leading scorer and rebounder Zach Randolph. The star forward will miss the remainder of the season after having surgery on his right hand.

"It's difficult (without Randolph). It's going to be difficult, but that's what we have to do," Roy said. "Nobody is going to give us a break because Zach is out. We have won without him, and we think we still can.

"Obviously, it would be a lot easier with him in there, but it will give other guys opportunities to step up and see what they can do. We still want to finish the season out strong and continue to improve."

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