The Los Angeles Clippers are proving last season`s playoff berth wasn`t a fluke. The Portland Trail Blazers` early success suggests last season`s disappointment is behind them.
Coming off a win over one of the Western Conference`s top teams, the Clippers look to remain undefeated at Staples Center when they face the Trail Blazers on Monday.
Oddsmakers have listed the Clippers as 12-point favorites and the total is set at 196.
Los Angeles (2-1) has won its first two games at home, including a 114-108 victory over defending Pacific Division champion Phoenix on Saturday night.
The Clippers, coming off their first playoff berth in nine years, are proving to be a difficult team to shut down when moving the ball. Reserve Corey Maggette led Los Angeles with 23 points and 12 rebounds Saturday, and his teammates pitched in with a variety of contributions.
Sam Cassell also had 23 points, Cuttino Mobley had 18, and Elton Brand had 15 points and 10 rebounds. Tim Thomas had eight points and 13 rebounds, and Shaun Livingston came off the bench to score 14 points and dish out nine assists.
``When we move the ball and get eight, nine, 10 or 11 touches, who can you stop?`` Mobley said. ``You have an Elton Brand, Tim Thomas, Cuttino Mobley, Corey Maggette, Shaun Livingston, Sam Cassell. You have all those guys.``
Brand, who scored only eight points in a win over Denver on Thursday, has not been held to consecutive single-digit scoring games since March 2004.
The Trail Blazers have a long way to go before they can put last season`s league-worst 21-61 record behind them, but two wins in three games against conference foes is a promising start. Portland is over .500 for the first time since Dec. 22, 2004, when it was 13-12.
Playing without starting center Joel Przybilla, the Blazers beat Minnesota 88-86 on Saturday night on Juan Dixon`s 3-pointer with 6.2 seconds left.
Przybilla has a lower abdominal injury and is supposed to be out about a week. Jamaal Magloire, acquired from Milwaukee in the offseason, started in his place and had just two points in 18 minutes against the Timberwolves.
Travis Outlaw, Portland`s first-round pick in 2003, picked up the slack with a team-high 18 points and career-best 15 rebounds off the bench.
Blazers guard Brandon Roy, the No. 6 overall selection in this year`s draft who finished with 16 points and eight assists, praised Outlaw.
``Now that we`ve seen him play like that, we`re going to hold him to it,`` said Roy, averaging 18.3 points, 5.0 assists and 4.3 rebounds. ``We need him to play like that.``
Outlaw said he hopes the big game is the start of a strong season.
``I`m glad I had a great game but I really want to be consistent with it,`` he said. ``I don`t just want to have one good game the whole year.``
The Clippers have won four straight against the Blazers since a 90-86 loss on Jan. 28, 2005.