They haven't been in this neighborhood often, and took a long time to return.
So it's not surprising the Clippers expressed a sense of accomplishment about reaching the 40-victory plateau Saturday afternoon with a 116-101 win over the Washington Wizards at Staples Center.
Although most teams might not consider 40 victories significant, there hasn't been much to celebrate in Clipper history.
"I think it's a great accomplishment," said Corey Maggette, who scored 19 points in his first start since he sat out 39 games because of a foot injury. "It's an accomplishment for the organization, which went out and made the acquisitions in the off-season.
"It's an accomplishment for the players, who battled through all the injuries, guys coming in and out of the lineup all the time, and just kept their focus. It says a lot about what we're doing ... it's just good."
The Clippers (40-28) last won at least 40 games in the 1992-93 season, and have reached the mark only seven times in their 36 seasons.
They were stuck on 39 after consecutive losses on a 1-2 trip, but had a good day on offense against the Wizards, scoring their most points this season.
Elton Brand had a game-high 32 points and nine rebounds, Sam Cassell contributed 26 points and eight assists and Chris Kaman re-emerged as a force inside.
The 7-foot center, who had not scored in double figures in five games, had 21 points and 13 rebounds.
Brand and Kaman helped the Clippers dictate the game's tempo early. The Clippers, playing without injured guard Cuttino Mobley for the first time this season, were ahead, 63-47, at halftime and led by as many as 25 points in the second half.
They won both games in the season series against the Wizards for the first time in 14 seasons, and took a half-game lead over the Memphis Grizzlies in the race to be seeded fifth in the Western Conference playoffs.
But joining the 40-victory club was most significant, players said.
"It's definitely an accomplishment. It hasn't happened a lot for us," Brand said. "It's not a guarantee to be .500, we have a few games left to at least guarantee .500, and we can see how far we can go."
In training camp, Cassell said the Clippers "could be a 50-win team." His assessment hasn't changed.
"We can reach 50, but like I tell the guys, we have to take it one game at a time," Cassell said. "As long as we have intensity, then we'll be fine. Every game presents different challenges for us, so let's just recognize that and go from there."
Led by guard Gilbert Arenas, the Wizards (35-33) have an outstanding offense. Washington isn't as accomplished on defense, so Coach Mike Dunleavy's game plan focused on containing Arenas and exploiting soft coverage.
Quinton Ross, as usual, got the tough one-on-one assignment. Arenas, fourth in the NBA in scoring with an average of 29.1 points, scored only 17 points and missed 11 of 16 shots from the field, including six of seven three-point shots.
Antawn Jamison led the Wizards with 31 points.
"Our guys came out and defended well against a team with a high-powered offense," Dunleavy said. "Ross did a great job of making Arenas work for everything he got."
The Clippers impressed the Wizards.
"They came out on fire," Arenas said. "Brand and Sam Cassell killed us.
"We cut it down to five in the second period, and they just took over the game from there. They did a team job and just played harder than we did."
Said Jamison: "This team can scare some people in the playoffs."