The Staples Center is star-studded almost every night, due to the Clippers and Lakers both becoming powerhouses in this past offseason. Anthony Davis getting traded to the Lakers to join Lebron James has sparked a killer duo in the City of Angels. Around the same time, superstars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George teamed up on the Clippers, joining a solid cast of role players searching for stars to push them over the hump. These two teams have been taking care of business, with the Lakers at 24-7 and the Clippers at 23-10 so far this season; first and third place in the west respectively. The battle for the best team in L.A. will be a season-long one, as the Clippers and Lakers both have hopes to raise the Larry O’ Brien trophy in June.
While the Lakers have a better record, the Clippers have won both of the first two matchups between the teams, including a game that was the best Christmas gift NBA fans could ask for. A competitive game that saw the Lakers briefly pull ahead until the Clippers came back in the third quarter from a double-digit deficit. Kawhi Leonard’s 35 points were huge in this game, as he took over as he displayed he could do last summer, winning a championship in Toronto. The game was down to the wire and was a fun one to watch for any fan, definitely up there for game of the year as we creep up on the midway point of the season in a couple of weeks. The other matchup between the two L.A. teams was on opening night, where the Clippers got the best of the purple and gold by a score of 112-102. They did it without Paul George as well, the six-time all-star was out for the first portion of the season injured.
The Clips have the upper hand in head to head matchups, and will keep trying to climb up the Western Conference standings. Meanwhile, the Lakers loss on Christmas day marks their 4th straight defeat, and is narrowing the gap between them and the other contenders in the west. It is entirely possible that we won’t do any traveling for this year’s Western Conference Finals, with the Clippers and Lakers both having playoff winners on their teams, and both squads have enough talent to get there. The two L.A. teams meet again on January 28th and March 8th. Two days that are bound to be good nights of basketball. We’ll see who makes the further postseason run, but until then the question of the best team in Los Angeles is still up in the air.
- Kevin Barnett