Maggette could return tonight

Times Staff Writer

Help is on the way.

The Clippers, mired in a 2-6 slide, will probably have the services of leading scorer Corey Maggette for tonight’s game against the Houston Rockets.

Maggette, sidelined the last four games because of a strained right hamstring, was originally slated to miss two to three weeks. But he responded well to therapy, including laser treatment that penetrated the injured area.

“Last time, you heard it was supposed to be three weeks,” Maggette said, speaking with reporters Sunday. “But everything is doing well and I had the opportunity to rest it and get some good strengthening from therapists and it’s feeling good.


“Most likely, I’ll be playing [against Houston].”

Maggette played one on one against reserve forward Josh Powell on Sunday and appeared mobile and agile, driving to the rim and connecting on his outside shot.

They split the first two games and Maggette took the last, one he called “the championship game.”

The Clippers have averaged 89.25 points without Maggette, whose scoring average is 19.8 points a game. In games he’s played, they are averaging 99.88 points.

“If he feels good [tonight], he may give it a shot,” Coach Mike Dunleavy said. “Obviously it will be great to get him back. We’ll just have to see from the standpoint of no practice time.”

Maggette drives to the rim hard and is adept at getting to the foul line. But his play does leave him prone to hard fouls.

He bruised his tailbone against the Indiana Pacers on Nov. 7 and continued to play. The injury caused him to overcompensate and he hurt his hamstring against the Golden State Warriors the following week.


“Due to the way I play and how strong I go to the basket, you are going to have nicks and bruises. There’s nothing I can do about it,” Maggette said.

“Believe me, if I could shoot like [New Orleans Hornets forward] Peja Stojakovic, I would be out here,” he said, gesturing to the three-point line on the Clippers’ practice court.

“But that’s not my game. I can shoot the ball, but it helps my team out by me attacking the basket and getting the other team in foul trouble.”

Maggette said having another scorer on the floor would help unclog the middle, as opponents have been sending double teams quicker than usual at center Chris Kaman.

“Hopefully, I can just come back in and give us some boost and take some pressure off [Kaman] because he’s getting a lot of double teams,” Maggette said. “I think our team is not doing bad. We’ve had some bad breaks with player injuries, but I think we’ll be all right.”

Reserve point guard Brevin Knight, who missed the last two games because of a strained right groin, probably will play tonight.




vs. Houston, 7:30, FSN Prime Ticket

Site -- Staples Center.

Radio -- 710.

Records -- Clippers 6-6, Rockets 7-7.

Record vs. Rockets (2006-07) -- 1-3.

Update -- The Rockets beat the Denver Nuggets on Saturday to end a six-game losing streak. Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming combined for 57 points.