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10 Los Angeles Clippers
Jack McCallum
October 29, 2007
A streaky guard becomes the key to the playoff hopes of a banged-up club
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October 29, 2007

10 Los Angeles Clippers

A streaky guard becomes the key to the playoff hopes of a banged-up club

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Despite the criticism and rumblings, Maggette has never publicly exploded in response or, as far as anyone on the outside knew, cut back on his effort. "Corey plays as hard as anybody in the league," says Suns assistant Alvin Gentry. But just when it seemed the Clippers were ready to commit to Maggette, offering an extension on his deal, which runs out next season, Maggette said he will let the Oct.�31 deadline pass, setting himself up to be an unrestricted free agent next year.

All in all, this could be the year of Maggette. He'll be playing for a new contract and, for at least the start of the season, playing without another 20-points-per-game scorer on the floor. "You have to pick up the slack," says Maggette, "and that's what I plan to do."--J.M.

ENEMY LINES

An opposing team's scout sizes up the Clippers

I don't see a lot of answers on their roster for the losses of Elton Brand (left Achilles) and Shaun Livingston (left knee). Corey Maggette couldn't possibly be more selfish than he was last year; Sam Cassell is nearly 38 and at the end of the trail. . . . Chris Kaman will be a crucial guy for them. If he can get back on track after leveling off last season, he can help them as a guy in the half-court who can make a play inside. Defensively he'll have to be their anchor and really step it up if they want to remain competitive. . . . I like the energy they're getting from rookie Al Thornton, though he's a little wild. He plays at a high speed, and I don't know if he's always under control, but he gets to where he wants to go. They'll need to rely on him more. . . . Every time I see Tim Thomas, I'm asking, Why is this guy not better? He's capable of shooting the ball and making plays around the basket, and he's more than athletic and skilled enough. But instead he just floats around, not playing hard, not mixing it up.

FAST FACT

L.A. tied for the NBA lead with 5.76 blocks per game, the second-lowest leading average since the stat became official in 1973-74. The lowest (5.56) was by the '74-75 Buffalo Braves, who later became the Clippers.

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