While everything the flashy Lakers do makes headlines, the subdued Clippers seem to live in the inside pages of life -- which is merciful this season with their once-promising team groping around under the .500 mark.

Last season's 1-2 punch, Elton Brand and Sam Cassell, was 10 points below last season's 42.5 points a game when Cassell went out. Supposed rising stars Chris Kaman and Shaun Livingston have struggled, and the team's chemistry has gone up in smoke as an unhappy Corey Maggette awaits his ticket to ride.

And that was with a favorable schedule, which is now evening up, with the Clippers about to go east for six games.

The Lakers just showed there are worse things than Eastern trips -- like Western trips. Now the Clippers will start to show if their season is going to end early, as in the old days.



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