The Clippers led by as many as 22 points at the top of the third quarter, but saw that lead cut to just three, 77-74, entering the fourth.
The game was close throughout the final 12 minutes, as the Hornets came within one point of the Clippers multiple times, but they never regained the lead.
J.J. Redick led the Clippers with 23 points on 10-for-17 shooting. Blake Griffin, who was playing in his second game back after missing 15 games because of a staph infection in his right elbow, scored 19 points, 15 of which he made in the first half. Griffin also had 11 rebounds and four assists. Chris Paul added 21 points and eight assists. Nate Robinson had 12 points off the bench.
The Clippers pulled off the win even though they were short-handed, missing Jamal Crawford (right calf bruise), Matt Barnes (right hamstring soreness) and Jordan Hamilton (right ankle sprain).
The Hornets were led by Al Jefferson, who had 21 points and six rebounds.
The win bumped the Clippers from seventh to fifth in the Western Conference, with a record of 43-25. The Hornets (29-37) are 10th in the East.
The Clippers swept their season series with the Hornets, also winning when the teams played Nov. 24, 113-92.
The Clippers play the second leg of a back-to-back Wednesday evening in Sacramento against the