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Clippers At A Glance

SPORTS EXTRA / PREVIEW SECTION: NBA '99

February 04, 1999|LONNIE WHITE

* 1997-98 season: 17-65, seventh in Pacific Division.

* Who's new: Coach Chris Ford, Michael Olowokandi, 7-1 center; Brian Skinner, 6-9 forward; Tyrone Nesby, 6-6 forward; Scott Brooks, 5-11 guard.

* Who's gone: Coach Bill Fitch; Loy Vaught, 6-9 forward; Ike Austin, 7-0 center; James Collins, 6-6 forward.

* Projected starters: Guards--Darrick Martin (10.3 points and 4.1 assists last season) and Eric Piatkowski (11.3 points and 3.5 rebounds); forwards--Lamond Murray (15.4 points and 6.1 rebounds) and Rodney Rogers (15.1 points and 5.6 rebounds); Center--Lorenzen Wright (nine points, 8.8 rebounds).

* Key to the season: Olowokandi and Taylor will have to play up to expectations for the Clippers to have a chance of reaching respectability. Martin and Pooh Richardson will have to be solid at point guard.

* Outlook: Because of the unusual circumstances surrounding this season, the Clippers could sneak up on teams as they learn Ford's new system. But for that to happen, the players will have to play together on both ends of the court. Murray could be headed for an all-star season (in a season without an All-Star game) and Taylor might be the best kept-secret in the league.

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