LOS ANGELES — Coming off their win against the Blazers, the Los Angeles Lakers move forward as they renew their rivalry with their co-tenants of Crypto Dot Com Arena, the L.A. Clippers.
We incessantly harp on the consistency of these Lakers this year (well, the last few years but we don’t need to go down that route). Well, to the Laker contingent in Los Angeles, nothing seems to make them happier than the Clippers losing to the Lakers. That has happened twice this year, which seems a little strange considering their overall season performance. But that’s what happened so far in the 2023-24 season.
In one of the best overall NBA games this season, the Lakers defeated the Clippers in an instant classic that went overtime on the first of November. The Clips led by 19 early before the Lakers stormed back in the third quarter. It went overtime, as mentioned, and a Christian Wood putback jam put the game away, 130-125.
Then on January 7th, we got another close game. Taurean Prince made a tiebreaking three and then LeBron James followed it up with a short shot to put the Lakers up five. The Clippers had to play the foul game before eventually succumbing to the Lakers, 106-103.
But let’s not ignore what the Clippers have been doing this season. The Clips acquired James Harden right before that November 1st contest with the Lakers and then they went on a puzzling losing streak that went 6 games long.
Since then? The Clippers have gone 24-7. They’re now sitting in the fourth spot and only one game behind the loss column of the #1 seed Minnesota Timberwolves. Wait. What did I just type again?
The Clippers would be an even more incredible team if we were in 2017. But even in 2024, this is a potent and loaded squad. A team that has Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, James Harden, and Russell Westbrook sounds terrifying as is. Westbrook has gone back to the bench just like he did with the Lakers last year and it’s worked out well for them.
None of them had huge offensive games in that January 7th game, though. Can the Lakers do that again? That’s a hard task, especially since LeBron James won’t be playing due to an ankle issue. But the bigger concern, really, is what team will we get with the Lakers. Are we going to get the elite team that made it all the way to the Western Conference Finals? The kind of team that suffocates on defense and moves the ball around on offense? Or are we going to get the one that sort of sleepwalks through most of the game and the type that gets embarrassed by the Brooklyn Nets in the second half? The Clippers are #1 in three-point percentage and the Lakers leaving shooters open has been a major disturbance as of late.
If the first two games were any indication, we’re going to get another great game on Tuesday night. But let’s see if the Lakers come out on top and make it 3-0 against the Clips this season.