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House Takes Clippers Home

Times Staff Writer

Elton Brand scored 39 points on 14-for-22 shooting and also took 11 rebounds in 41 minutes Thursday for the Clippers against the Boston Celtics.

There’s no category for immovable screens set in the final box score, but the Clippers wouldn’t have won if not for the pick Brand set that freed Eddie House for an open jump shot in the dying seconds.

House scampered around Brand’s pick and made an off-balance 19-foot jump shot with 1.8 seconds left that gave the Clippers a 102-100 victory over the Celtics before a crowd of 18,490 in Staples Center. The victory ended the Clippers’ five-game losing streak and extended the Celtics’ losing streak to four.

“He just said, ‘Set me a good screen,’ ” Brand would later say of a quick conversation he had with House during a timeout with 8.6 seconds to play. “I was ready to roll if they jumped out on him.”

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The Celtics could only watch as House’s jumper let the Clippers take their second victory from Boston this season. They also won Feb. 4 at Boston, when Quentin Richardson scored 36 points.

The Clippers couldn’t count on Richardson during the rematch Thursday. He lost his cool and was ejected by referee Jim Clark for arguing a foul call late in the first quarter. Without Richardson, Coach Mike Dunleavy was forced to rely on House and Keyon Dooling, and they responded with strong games.

House had 12 points in 26 minutes and Dooling had 16 in 32. Each made five of 11 shots.

Paul Pierce had 18 points for Boston, but missed 14 of 19 shots, including the potential game-winning jump shot with 8.6 seconds to play. Ricky Davis led the Celtics with 23 points.

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“We got off to a little bit of a shaky start getting down early and with Q getting thrown out, but I thought guys came off the bench and gave us a lot of energy defensively,” Dunleavy said. “Eddie came up with the big play at the end. We were fortunate to get a stop on the other end. Pierce had a great look at the basket.”

Dooling had tied the score at 100 with a free throw with 27.7 seconds remaining. The Clippers then left Pierce open about 20 feet straight away, but he misfired on the jumper and Corey Maggette rebounded with 8.6 seconds left.

The Clippers then gave the ball to House and he delivered.

“Did I save the day?” House said, repeating a reporter’s question. “I saved a win.”

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As if 22 days between home games weren’t tough enough on the road-weary Clippers, their travel plans went awry after they lost Wednesday at Portland, their fifth defeat in a row and sixth during a nine-game odyssey.

An external light on their chartered aircraft malfunctioned, grounding the flight and forcing the team to return to its hotel after a 2 1/2-hour delay on the tarmac. After getting roughly six hours of sleep, the Clippers finally left Portland at noon and arrived at LAX at 1:30 Thursday afternoon.

“I like Portland, but I don’t like it that much,” Dunleavy said before the game. “It is what it is. It’s just like the old days of flying commercial. I don’t like to use that [travel delays] as an excuse. We’ve got to come out and play. No crutches. No nothings.”

Meanwhile, as the Clippers were heading south from Oregon, the NBA’s trade deadline passed and the club stood pat. Dunleavy had hoped the team would clear more space under the salary cap, which would afford more flexibility once free agency begins this off-season.

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“This is who we are,” Dunleavy said. “We going to keep going and get our young guys to play better.”


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