The Hornets, who blew a 27-point lead in Friday’s 92-91 loss at Portland, have lost three straight after starting out 4-0 for the first time in the franchise’s 19-year history.

Point guard Chris Paul, held to a season-low 12 points Friday at Portland after scoring a career-high 34 Thursday at Golden State, made his first five shots and finished with 20 for New Orleans. Tyson Chandler had 13 rebounds and eight points after getting into early foul trouble.

New Orleans has dropped five straight to the Clippers in Los Angeles – including a humiliating 89-67 defeat on March 21 in which they scored an NBA record-low 16 points in the second half.

Down by 13 points with 7 minutes left in the third quarter, the Hornets used a 9-0 run to slice the margin to 62-58 with 4:18 left in the period. They got as close as 66-64 just before the end of the third on a pair of free throws by Bobby Jackson, but weren’t able to take the lead.

Los Angeles ran off eight straight points early in the fourth quarter to restore their double-digit margin and trigger a decisive 20-5 run that put the Clippers ahead 88-71 with 1:51 to play.

The Clippers led 53-42 at halftime despite missing 11 of their first 13 shots. One reason was sloppy ball handling by the Hornets, who committed 12 turnovers in the first quarter – including two shot-clock violations 47 seconds apart. Reserve forward Cedric Simmons coughed up the ball three times during a span of 70 seconds after replacing Chandler, who picked up two fouls in the first 61/2 minutes.

Notes: The Hornets committed 26 turnovers. The franchise record is 33, on Nov. 23, 1993 in a 118-98 loss at Washington. … Hornets coach Byron Scott played two seasons for Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy when Dunleavy coached the Lakers – including 1990-91, when they lost to Chicago in the NBA Finals. … Brand and Chandler were selected 1-2 overall in the 2001 draft by the Chicago Bulls and Clippers, respectively, and were traded for each other the same day. … The Clippers’ next game is Tuesday night at Utah, where they have lost in 32 of their last 33 visits. … The Clippers have had fewer turnovers than their opponents in each of the first six games.

AP-ES-11-12-06 1804EST


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