ATLANTA (AP) – Elton Brand scored 23 points and Sam Cassell added 21 as the Los Angeles Clippers beat the winless Atlanta Hawks 102-95 Thursday night for their best start after six games in 20 years.

The Clippers, in first place in the Pacific Division, are 5-1 for the first time since the 1985-86 season. The Hawks, meanwhile, have lost their first five games for the first time since the 2000-01 season, when they started 0-7.

The Clippers also beat the Hawks 92-77 Saturday in Los Angeles and have six straight wins in the series.

Corey Maggette, playing in his second game since returning from a strained left hamstring, added 17 points in only 25 minutes for the Clippers.

The Hawks were held to 41 percent shooting from the field, including 1-for-9 on 3-point attempts. The Clippers made 48 percent of their shots.

Joe Johnson led the Hawks with 24 points and set a season high with 10 rebounds. Zaza Pachulia also had a double-double with 16 points, 13 rebounds and a team-leading six assists. Al Harrington added 14 points and rookie Marvin Williams had 12.

Heat 88, Rockets 84

MIAMI (AP) – Dwyane Wade scored 25 points and Jason Williams had eight of his 13 in the final quarter as the Miami Heat rallied from a late eight-point deficit to beat the Houston Rockets 88-84 on Thursday night.

Wade added eight rebounds and seven assists for Miami, which also got 13 points and nine rebounds from Alonzo Mourning and 12 points from Gary Payton.

Yao Ming had 24 points and 14 rebounds for Houston, but scored only two points in the game’s final 20:04. Derek Anderson scored 20 points, Stromile Swift had 12 and Juwan Howard 11 for the Rockets, who’ve dropped three of four to open the season and play their next four on the road.

The win gave Heat coach Stan Van Gundy a 3-2 lead in the sibling series against his brother, the Rockets’ Jeff Van Gundy. Neither brother had his full complement of superstars.

The Heat are still without Shaquille O’Neal (sprained right ankle) and the Rockets didn’t have Tracy McGrady (strained back muscle).

Miami trailed 71-63 with 10:17 remaining, but erased the deficit with a 20-6 run over the next 9:05. Williams scored eight of those points, and his 3-pointer with 2:16 left gave the Heat an 81-77 lead. Mourning hit a jumper with 1:12 left to push the margin to six, and Miami held on.

The Heat survived many stretches of offensive ineptitude. Miami had two points in the game’s first 3:42, then went scoreless for 3:26 later in the half, 2:32 to open the second half and 4:03 later in the third.

Houston scored only six points in the final 5:13 of the third, but somehow added a point to its lead over that stretch and took a 64-60 edge into the fourth. And when David Wesley, who hadn’t taken a shot in his first 13 minutes, hit his first two attempts of the fourth, the Rockets held their eight-point lead.

But Miami made nine of its final 16 shots from the floor, and escaped.

Wade led all scorers with 15 first-half points, 12 in the last 5:14 to help Miami take a 48-44 lead.

Maggette scored 20 points in Wednesday night’s win at Washington, coming off the bench with 10 points in the second and fourth quarters. Again he came off the bench against Atlanta to score 10 in the second quarter as the Clippers led 50-47 at halftime.

The Clippers’ biggest lead of the first half was 39-29.

The Clippers maintained the lead but couldn’t pull away. After leading 75-69 at the end of the third quarter, the Clippers’ biggest lead in the final period was 12 points.

Brand had seven rebounds, missing a chance to set a franchise record with his 182nd double-double with the Clippers. Brand shares the mark with Loy Vaught.

Notes: Atlanta resident Terrell Owens drew a loud and mixed response from fans when he was shown on the video screen sitting at his courtside seat. … The Hawks used the same starting lineup in consecutive games for the first time. They used four different lineups in their first four games.

AP-ES-11-10-05 2159EST


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