Clippers 90, Knicks 80

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LOS ANGELES (AP) – Elton Brand scored 32 points and tied his career high with eight blocked shots, leading the Los Angeles Clippers to a 90-80 victory over the New York Knicks on Sunday.

Chris Kaman had 13 rebounds for the Clippers, who have won four of their last five games following a six-game losing streak. The victory was their fourth straight over New York and eighth in the last 11 meetings.

Eddy Curry had 15 points for the Knicks, who are 0-8 against the Clippers at Staples Center. They lost only once to them in their last 11 visits to the L.A. Sports Arena, and beat them in January 1994 in a game that was shifted to Anaheim after an earthquake caused damage to the Sports Arena.

Rookie guard Mardy Collins returned to the Knicks’ lineup after serving a six-game suspension and scored 11 points in 22 minutes. It was Collins’ flagrant foul against Denver’s J.R. Smith that triggered a brawl at Madison Square Garden on Dec. 16, resulting in the ejection of all 10 players on the court at the time and additional suspensions for teammates Nate Robinson (10 games), Jared Jeffries (four) and Jerome James (one).

New York is 4-3 since the brawl.

Collins’ return allowed the Knicks to rest three-time All-Star guard Steve Francis, who was limited to just 46 minutes of playing time over the previous three games because of tendinitis in his right knee and did not make a field goal against Detroit or Phoenix. Quentin Richardson missed his eighth straight game because of back spasms.

The Knicks never led in their fifth straight road loss. They shot 29.5 percent in the first half, 34.5 percent for the game, and had 16 shots blocked by the aggressive Clippers. Sunday was the 52nd anniversary of the night the Knicks shot a franchise record-low 23.5 percent from the field against the Milwaukee Hawks at Providence, R.I.

Brand scored 15 points in the first 7:17 of the game and didn’t make another field goal until his tip-in of Cuttino Mobley’s missed 12-footer with 7:09 left in the third quarter. But Brand blocked seven shots during that drought, helping the Clippers increase their 13-point halftime lead to 62-45.

Brand’s 18-footer gave Los Angeles its biggest lead, 82-58, with 8:10 to play. The Knicks got as close as 84-74 when Collins drained his third 3-pointer of the game to cap a 16-2 run with 3:38 remaining. Brand foiled the comeback with a dunk and a 17-footer that gave the Clippers a 90-74 lead with 1:32 left.

Notes: New York hasn’t beaten the Clippers in L.A. since March 25, 1998. … Both teams played their final game with the NBA’s much maligned new basketball, which will follow the Edsel, the pet rock and the hula hoop into oblivion on New Year’s Day. The Knicks were 13-20 with it and the Clippers were 14-16. … The Knicks finished December 7-9. They have not posted a winning record in any month since December 2004 (9-7). Last December they were 2-12. … Knicks C David Lee had nine rebounds after averaging 15.4 over his previous seven games. … The Knicks, who came in averaging a league-leading 54.2 rebounds, finished with 38 to match the Clippers’ total… The Clippers, who are 2-10 on the road, begin a six-game trip on Tuesday in Orlando.

AP-ES-12-31-06 1803EST

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