After it was all said and done the Los Angeles Clippers were five points better than the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night. The Lake Show losing out 107-102 in the season’s second installment of Battle Los Angeles was actually not a surprise in any way. In fact, Kobe Bryant called it before he went out and scored a game-high 38 points.
After it is all said and done this season its likely this is the closest the Lakers will come to their cross-Staples rivals. Friday’s loss leaves the Lakers 10 games behind the Clippers in the Pacific Division. It also leaves the league’s most underachieving team with more doubt, questions and uncertainty.
The future of this entire franchise has got to be in doubt now. Once upon a time the argument was there was time to get things back on track. The season is nearing its midpoint and the Lakers are two games below .500. Time has pretty much run out.
Pau Gasol’s future in Los Angeles is always in doubt but last night might have been the moment that got his one-way ticket out of L.A. punched. The Spaniard was a complete non-factor scoring just 2 points in 27 minutes on the court. Mike D’Antoni can’t figure out how to work with Pau and Gasol doesn’t seem to have much desire to try any longer.
At this rate it is also highly doubtful that Dwight Howard will return to the Lakers. Not only was Los Angeles not his first choice but he was already on the record saying he’ll test free agency no matter the results of the season. I think we know where this one is headed.
For whatever it’s worth Howard did put together one of his best games in some time. D12 looked a little more Superman-like scoring 21 with 15 rebounds and 4 blocks. He also fouled out just as the Lakers were mounting yet another all-too-late comeback.
Steve Nash is still a quality point guard but seeing him against Chris Paul is a reminder of just who is in the elite club of NBA quarterbacks these days. Nash’s line of 12 and 10 dimes was pretty much Paul’s fourth quarter. CP#3 killed Nash all night leaving Kobe to carry the offensive and defensive load down the stretch.
Speaking of defense. When the Lakers get 38 from Kobe and double-doubles from Howard and Nash aren’t they supposed to win? Not when they’re conceding 61 points in one half and certainly not when the opposition shoots 50% from the field.
We could keep going down the line but by now you get the point.
The Lakers’ season is pretty much lost at this point. There isn’t enough time to make a real run at prime playoff position. There isn’t enough desire or effort being shown on a nightly basis to indicate a title run is in the cards should they even make the playoffs. There is no longer any reason to argue whose town this is either.
Sure, the banners hanging in Staples are a reminder of the hoops heritage in Los Angeles. Fact of the matter is the Clippers are the current contenders while the Lakers aren’t even pretenders. 10 games behind their rivals…I’m guessing that’s the first time this has ever happened. It could also be the first time a Laker squad built to win doesn’t even finish with a winning record. History is indeed being made in Los Angeles. Too bad for those of us on the Lakers side of the fence it’s the historic epic fail unfolding before our eyes.