(Note: The writer is an extremely biased and angry Laker fan)
Usually when the Clippers are hosting the Lakers, it wouldn’t be considered a home game. Usually when the Clippers play the Lakers on basketball hardwood with the Clippers logo, there would be a sea of purple and gold in the Staples Center. Usually when Kobe Bryant is scoring 42 points, the Clippers will lose. Usually, at least.
None of those things applied on the first game of the post-lockout season between the two ball clubs last night (1/14/2012).
Now, I’m just like every other Lakers fan (or probably even every other NBA fan) when I say that never in my life would I thought that I would be taking the Clippers seriously. We all know about the Chris Paul to the Lakers trade that got snubbed by David Stern and which evidently landed CP3 in a Clippers uniform. Laker fans, I know that you’re disgruntled about everything that has happened recently, but let’s not be spoiled cry babies. We have stolen many great players for practically nothing (*coughs* Pau). So let’s just hope that we get another great player before the trade deadline (*coughs* Dwight).
Now last night’s game displayed everything you wanted in a basketball game. It was physical. It was emotional. It was chippy. The Staples Center was louder than it’s ever been for a regular season game between the Lakers and the Clippers. It felt like it was a playoff game. Rookie Darrius Morris was pushed by Blake Griffin after dunking. World Peace, Griffin, and Lakers coach, Mike Brown, each received technicals. Lakers fans and Clippers fans were yelling at what was going on in the game and at each other. The magnitude of intensity of this game can not be measured. This was a game for each team with something to prove. You have the older brother who punks his little brother frequently, and now the little brother is starting to push back.
What was the biggest strength of the Clippers last night? Chris Paul. CP3 scored 33 points with 6 assists and only 1 turnover. Now no one should take anything away from Chris Paul. He is arguably one of the best point guards we have in the league. But if the Lakers expect to contend, then they must stop him and every other point guard in the league. Right now, young and athletic point guards are surging through the NBA and last night was a showcase of why the Lakers need to be stronger at that position. Lakers do not need a point guard to facilitate and score, they need a point guard who can defend.
The Clippers did a tremendous job on the glass last night. The Clips outrebounded the Lakers 50-42 and grabbed 17 offensive boards. The Clippers led throughout the entire game and only let the Lakers come close once in the game. The closest it got was in the third quarter where the Lakers were rallying behind a magnificent quarter by Kobe Bryant, who scored 21 points in that quarter alone.
Historically, the Lakers outplay the Clippers. In regular season head-to-head competition, the Lakers are 141-49 against the Clips (source:LakersUniverse), that’s a winning percentage of 74.9%. Now, there are many Lakers fans fretting over the loss against the Clippers last night. They are acting like it’s the end of a dynasty. Now in the grand view of things, this loss is just another loss in the history books. Teams lose; that’s the spirit and results of competition. You can’t expect to win all the time. Winning shows everyone that you’re one of the best. Coming back from a loss shows everyone that you’re great. Now does that mean we should totally disregard the Clippers as contenders for the crown of LA? No. Then does that mean the Clippers are the new kings of LA? Not that either. The Clippers are legit contenders and may steal the throne from the Lakers, but we still have yet to see how they’re going to do throughout the entire season.
Can the Clippers beat the Lakers in a best of seven playoff series against the Lakers? If both teams have the exact same roster come playoffs, then probably. Both teams lack depth on the bench, but the difference maker in terms of match up will be the point guard position. Last night’s game has shown everyone that the Lakers cannot stop Chris Paul, and if they were to meet in the playoffs, I don’t see the Lakers containing CP3 in a 7-game series.
Now I was born a Lakers fan. I grew up with purle and gold on the television at all times. Eddie Jones was my first favorite Laker and I loved seeing a young Kobe Bryant developed his game into one of the best this world has ever seen. Does seeing the Clippers beat my childhood team sting? You bet it does. It hurts. It shows me that there is a transition of power in LA basketball. This Clipper victory may just be a regular season win, but no matter how you look at it, this is a statement win. Clippers aren’t ringing the doorbell politely; they’re setting up dynamite at our doors and forcing their way in with explosives. But after seeing last night’s game and how exciting and heartbreaking it was, I’m sort of happy to know that a locker-room rivalry has emerged. I’ve always appreciated the sound of screaming and passionate fans, especially when the arena has a 50/50 of allegiance to both teams. It makes the game more exciting. Before when the Lakers and the Clippers played, nobody paid attention. We all assumed that the Lakers were going to win. Even if the Clippers beat the Lakers, no one cared because Laker fans didn’t see them as a threat. Well now they are a threat. Now the Clippers preparing to take over.
If the Lakers and the Clippers meet in the playoffs this season, guaranteed it will be the start of a great rivalry. If the Clippers beat the Lakers in a playoff series, it will probably be a transition of power in LA basketball.
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