Clippers cut off Hornets


OKLAHOMA CITY – Sam Cassell scored 31 points, Cuttino Mobley added 20 and the Los Angeles Clippers started to look healthy again in a 100-90 win Monday night against the New Orleans Hornets.

Playing for the first time in three weeks, Cassell scored 10 points during the Clippers’ decisive 17-3 fourth-quarter surge, including a 3-pointer that gave Los Angeles the lead for good at 79-77 with 9:12 to play.

He sandwiched another 3-pointer between two jumpers, and Mobley added a jumper for a 91-80 Clippers lead.

Cassell had missed seven games with plantar fasciitis in his left heel before returning against the Hornets, and Mobley hyperextended his left elbow last week at Miami.

They showed no mercy against the Hornets, who are without injured starters Chris Paul (sprained ankle), Peja Stojakovic (back surgery) and David West (right elbow surgery).

Desmond Mason led New Orleans with 28 points for the second straight game, picking up his first consecutive 20-point games since his final three games with Milwaukee at the end of the 2004-05 season.

Rockets 84, Bulls 77

CHICAGO – Tracy McGrady scored 25 of his 31 points in the second half and hit the go-ahead jumper to lift the Houston Rockets to an 84-77 victory over the Chicago Bulls on Monday night.

McGrady’s long jumper with 1:19 left broke a 77-77 tie. Houston’s Shane Battier blocked a driving layup by Ben Gordon with 25 seconds left. McGrady then hit one of two free throws to make it a three-point game and Chuck Hayes and Luther Head added two apiece.

It was the fifth 30-point performance in six games for McGrady, who hit just three of 10 shots in the first half.

Juwan Howard added 16 points and nine rebounds, Dikembe Mutombo grabbed a season-high 16 rebounds, and the Rockets won for the sixth time in eight games since Yao Ming broke a bone in his right leg.

Gordon led Chicago with 24 points, and Luol Deng scored 20 after finishing with 30 in Saturday’s 106-89 win over Detroit.

AP-ES-01-08-07 2301EST