Al Thornton scored six of his 20 points over the final 1:23 and DeAndre Jordan had 16 points and nine rebounds to lead the Los Angeles Clippers to a 91-88 victory over the New Orleans Hornets on Friday night in the preseason finale for both teams.
The Clippers (6-1), who were 19-63 in an injury-plagued 2008-09, open the regular season Tuesday night against the Lakers.
Clippers forward Blake Griffin, the first overall pick in the draft, had eight points and six rebounds in 26 minutes. He finished the preseason averaging 13.7 points and 8.1 rebounds, and is expected to start in the opener because of Marcus Camby's sprained left ankle.
Peja Stojakovic led New Orleans (2-6) with 19 points and David West had 18.
The Hornets, who have eight new players on their roster, open the season Wednesday at San Antonio. New Orleans was 7-0 in the preseason last year, a springboard to a 49-33 record that resulted in their first Southwest Division title. But they lost to Denver in the first round of the playoffs, tying an NBA postseason record with a 58-point loss in Game 4.
The Clippers, 2 of 14 from 3-point range through the first three quarters, took a 66-65 lead into the fourth. Baron Davis hit a 3 to give Los Angeles a 73-67 lead with 9:32 to play, and Craig Smith converted two offensive rebounds into a dunk and a layup 27 seconds apart, increasing the margin to 79-70 with 7:17 left.
The Hornets closed to 79-77 on a 3-pointer by Bobby Brown and a short jumper by West with 4:07 remaining, but that was as close as they got. Thornton helped seal the win with a 19-footer and two free throws, giving Los Angeles an 86-80 lead with 46.4 seconds to go.
Hornets point guard Chris Paul missed his second straight game because of an upper respiratory problem and forward Ike Diogu sat out with a left knee strain. Center Emeka Okafor, who sprained a toe on his right foot during the first day of training camp, didn't play during the preseason.
NOTES: The replacement referees called 41 fouls and a technical against Darius Songaila. Things will be back to normal on opening night, because the NBA and its referees union reached agreement Friday night on a two-year contract _ ending a lockout that lasted more than a month. ... Byron Scott, who enters this season with a .500 record as an NBA head coach (349-349), is eight victories from breaking Paul Silas' franchise record of 207 regular-season wins. Clippers counterpart Mike Dunleavy is eight wins from 600. ... Darren Collison, the Hornets' first-round draft pick out of UCLA, had six points in 14 minutes. He finished the preseason with 44 points and 17 assists in 96 minutes.