For the first time in a long time, the Los Angeles Clippers (25-8) are expected to beat their fellow counterparts, the Los Angeles Lakers. The franchise that has won 16 NBA championships has 16 losses this season and only 15 wins after 31 games. The Los Angeles Clippers, a franchise that has yet to win a NBA championship, is two straight losses removed from a 17-game winning streak. Despite the immense talent the Lakers espouse, the Lakers cannot stop teams from scoring. It’s the reason they have had trouble with seemingly bad teams, they are too old and too slow to stick younger, quicker athletes. Unfortunately for Lakers fans, that is exactly what comprises the entire Clippers roster, youth and quickness.
After the return of Steve Nash and Pau Gasol two weeks ago, the Lakers went on a winning streak of their own and things seemed as they should be for five games. They followed it up with a loss, win, and a loss, the type of inconsistency that has characterized the play of the Lakers this year. Contrary to popular belief, it isn’t the offense that is plaguing the Lake Show. They are fifth in the NBA in points per game at 102.8 points. It’s the fact that they start a 38-year old Steve Nash, a 34-year old Kobe Bryant, and a slow, 32-year old Pau Gasol. Dwight Howard defending the hoop isn’t helping because the Lakers don’t communicate or rotate on the defensive end of the court. They will need to do both tonight to keep an eye on the dangerous combo of Chris Paul and Blake Griffin.
The Los Angeles Clippers have used the draft and favorable trades to bolster their roster and transform themselves from laughing stock of the NBA to a legitimate title contender. The Clippers are led by the best point guard in the NBA, Chris Paul. His basketball IQ is off the charts and he uses his small stature to his advantage. Paul is averaging just under 10 assists per game, helping make the Clippers third in the NBA in assists per game at 23.4 a game. The Clippers are also two-deep at every position, with players like Jamal Crawford and Eric Bledsoe that could start on most NBA teams. The Clippers are not only a scary team offensively, they also play great defense, allowing only 92.9 points per game (4th in the NBA). In the first matchup between the two teams, the Clippers beat the Lakers by 10 points back on November 2, but the score doesn’t portray the dominance of the Clippers in that matchup. If the Lakers fail to strangle the Paul to Griffin connection, it’ll be a blowout at Staples Center tonight.
The game tips-off at 7:30PM PT on ESPN.
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