New Orleans Coach Byron Scott was drafted by the San Diego Clippers in 1983 but never played for the franchise. Scott, who played 11 seasons with the Lakers, said he's not surprised to see the Clippers above his former team in the standings.
"You figured that one of these days it was going to happen," said Scott, whose Hornets faced the Clippers on Wednesday night at Staples Center. "They kept some of the great talent that they had and some of their younger players are starting to develop.
"Then you add a guy like Sam Cassell, who has won everywhere he's been and brings a lot to the table with his experience and knowledge of the game ... plus add Cuttino [Mobley] and it's easy to see how they've done it."
When Scott played for the Lakers (1983-93, 1996-97), the Clippers finished with a better regular-season record than their NBA neighbors only twice, in 1992 and 1993.
The Clippers' practice today is expected to feature the return of swingmen Corey Maggette, sidelined since Dec. 5 because of a left-foot injury, and Quinton Ross, sidelined the last seven games because of a back injury. Center Chris Kaman, sidelined since suffering an ankle injury against the Lakers last week, may also practice today. All three players may be ready to play Friday at Utah.
Coach Mike Dunleavy said he's not worried about Maggette's return upsetting the team chemistry of the Clippers, who need 16 wins to equal the best mark in franchise history, established by the 1974-75 Buffalo Braves.
"That's because we have a good group of guys who understand their pecking order," Dunleavy said.
Maggette was cleared by Dr. Tony Daly to resume full-contact practice with the team today. Maggette, who is averaging 21.7 points and 5.5 rebounds, has played in only 13 games this season.
New Orleans' coaching staff includes former Laker assistant Jim Cleamons and former USC assistant David Miller.