Clippers Issue the Opening Salvo to the Lakers
The Battle of Los Angeles was an incident that occured over the skies of Los Angeles just months after Pearl Harbor was attacked by Japan in World War II. It ended up being a false alarm. Somehow that does seem like an appropriate metaphor for this Lakers-Clippers slap-and-tickle fight.
I'm hesitant to call this a rivalry since the Clippers have been shitty for a great majority of their time in Los Angeles. Sorry to the five Clippers fans out there, but the Clippers have won nothing while the Lakers have won eight championships since the Clippers moved to town in 1984. The Lakers hold a 95-28 record in that span.
But once the Clippers landed Chris Paul last season, things got interesting at STAPLES Center. The plantation owner Donald Sterling decided he wanted to be a serious owner, and the Clippers finally arrived at the destination called "respectability". Even then the Lakers still took the season series 3-1.
This is only the third game for the Lakers this season and the second for the Clippers, and it's still premature to come to any overarching conclusions. Like Kobe Bryant told reporters on Thursday, "Shut up."
Bryant is 100% correct. The offense is going to take some time to click, but it looked a lot better against the Clippers than it did the first two games. And that is even with Steve Nash out after suffering a left leg contusion in Portland on Wednesday.
Bryant seemed determined to get the Lakers the win leading all scorers with 40 points. But the Lakers still lost the game 105-95 sending them to 0-3. If this were the NFL, there would be a good reason to panic. But this is an 82-game NBA season, so who cares? "But only the 1990-91 Chicago Bulls went 0-3 and won a championship," some may complain. "The Lakers haven't started 0-3 since 1978," other may cry. My reply, "So?"
Those kind of statistics aren't probabilities. They're merely historical notes that you nod at, maybe give a wordless retort and move on with your life. Now if you want to get worked up over the bench's lack of consistency, then that is all right. The Lakers continued to get killed in the battle of the benches being outscored 46-16.
Then you realize how deep the Clippers are. Off the bench Jamal Crawford himself outscored the Lakers bench 21-16 leading all Clippers scorers. And the scary part is they still are without Chauncey Billups and Grant Hill. Just let that sink in.
The Clippers are a fun team to watch. Whenever Chris Paul is guiding an offense, you hold your breath in anticipation of something brilliant. Of course he led the game with 15 assists to go with his 18 points.
Last year started off the same way until Billups was injured which sent them on a skid. They eventually got it together to make the playoffs and beat the Memphis Grizzlies in seven games in the first round of the playoffs. But the spectre that haunts the Clippers is the threat of injury.
It looks like their depth this season can sustain them through any big injuries that may come their way.
I'm not willing to say the Clippers are favorites in the West while the Lakers are a lottery team. The trite expression is, "It's a marathon, not a sprint." But it is starting to look like the two teams are starting to develop a rivalry of sorts.
I know it's not a popular perspective to take in our premature ejaculation world of quick judgments, but let's just see how things play out.