LOS ANGELES -- Chris Kaman looks as if he's ready to start paying some big dividends for the Los Angeles Clippers
The fifth-year center had 26 points and 18 rebounds Friday night to help Los Angeles open its season with a 120-114 victory over the Golden State Warriors.
Cuttino Mobley hit two fadeaway jumpers in the final 76 seconds, then Kaman made three free throws to seal the victory.
Kaman missed part of the third quarter, leaving the floor to get three stitches to close a cut above his left eye. He was hit when he tried to block a driving dunk by Kelenna Azibuike 1:10 into the period. He returned to the court with 2:58 left in the quarter.
"Chris was terrific tonight," Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy said. "He really controlled the paint. He got hit in the head and went out and got some stitches, but he came back.
"He needs to get hit in the head every night, I guess."
Kaman said he was able to take advantage of the Warriors' smaller lineup.
"I think it hurts them a little bit sometimes when they go small," he said. "I just played with energy and was fortunate to be in a position where the ball was coming to me."
The Clippers' 7-footer got a five-year contract extension early last season, but had a relatively mediocre year. He averaged 10.1 points and 7.8 rebounds.
Mobley, who finished with 21 points, made a 16-footer for a 115-112 lead with 1:16 left, then added a 15-footer off the glass for a five-point lead with 48 seconds to go.
"That's what I do in the fourth quarter. That's my job," Mobley said. "I always want the ball in the fourth quarter. You're going to fail sometimes, but it feels good when you succeed."
Tim Thomas had 20 points for Los Angeles, and Corey Maggette had 16 points, seven rebounds and five assists.
Azibuike had 33 points and eight rebounds, and Baron Davis had 22 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds for the Warriors, who lost their second straight. Utah beat them 117-96 on Tuesday.
Golden State coach Don Nelson complimented Azubuike.
"He played a complete game. He scored and rebounded," Nelson said. "I am very proud of him. He is one of my most solid guys, all-around."
The Clippers are missing their best player, Elton Brand, and point guard Shaun Livingston, with neither expected back for several months.
Brand tore his left Achilles' tendon working out in August. Livingston tore three ligaments in his left knee in a game last Feb. 26.
Sam Cassell said he and his Los Angeles teammates realize they have to step up because of the absence of Brand and Livingston.
"We would have lost that game last year. This year we understand the injuries we have and just drive forward," Cassell said. "If we can get an effort like this every night, win or lose, I'm satisfied with it."
The Warriors were without Stephen Jackson, sitting out the second game of seven-game suspension levied by the league following his guilty plea to a felony charge of criminal recklessness for firing a gun into the air outside an Indianapolis club.
The Clippers were behind 95-94 when they went on a 13-0 run started by Ruben Patterson's layup with 10:44 left. Mobley scored six points during the run, capping it with a 21-footer with 7:22 remaining.
The Warriors responded with a 17-6 spurt, trimming the deficit to 113-112 on a fastbreak layup by Monta Ellis with 1:31 left. But they got no closer.
The game was Dunleavy's 329th as coach of the Clippers, most in franchise history. Jack Ramsay (1972-76) and Bill Fitch (1994-98) both coached the team in 328 games. Dunleavy has 153 wins as the Los Angeles coach; Ramsay is first on the team's list with 158. ... The Clippers and Warriors split their series 2-2 last season, both winning their two home games. ... The 120 points were the most by the Clippers in a season opener since the franchise moved from San Diego to Los Angeles in 1984. ... The Clippers have beaten the Warriors at least once in each of the last 21 seasons, their longest such streak against any opponent.