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Bryant, Lakers meet Clippers for first time this season

Nov 21, 2006 - 1:51 PM LA Clippers (6-2) at LA Lakers (7-3) 10:30 pm EST

LOS ANGELES (Ticker) - Elton Brand and the Los Angeles Clippers were the darlings of "Tinsel Town" last season. But Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers have returned to the spotlight.

Bryant and the Lakers aim for their fourth consecutive victory Tuesday when they square off with the crosstown rival Clippers for the first time this season.

After posting a surprising 47-35 record last season, the Clippers eliminated the Denver Nuggets in the opening round of the postseason, their first win of a playoff series since 1976.

Brand emerged as a key cog for the Clippers last season, averaging a career-high 24.7 points and 10.0 rebounds. But the 6-8 forward has gotten off to a slow start this season, averaging just 17.9 points over the first eight games.

The reigning league scoring champion, Bryant also has struggled in the early going while recovering from offseason knee surgery. But he has been helped by Lamar Odom, who is averaging 19.0 points and team highs of 8.6 rebounds and 5.1 assists.

Odom collected 23 points and 10 rebounds Sunday to lead the Lakers to an 82-72 triumph over the Chicago Bulls.

Bryant scored 18 points on just 5-of-14 shooting for the Lakers, who improved to 6-1 this season at Staples Center.

Brand erupted in the Clippers' 103-97 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday, scoring a season-high 33 points while grabbing 12 rebounds. Corey Maggette chipped in 21 points off the bench for the Clippers, who have won six of their last seven.

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