Lakers vs. Clippers: Lakers Own The City But For How Long?


The Clippers play the Lakers on Sunday night, a Lakers home game. The Clippers lead the series 2-0.

The Clippers and Lakers travel different roads these days. One road leads to the playoffs while the other road ends at the lottery; both are for dreamers. It is where the Clippers and Lakers both find themselves thinking about destiny. Will a Western Conference appearance for Chris Paul happen in the middle of May? Will the Lakers get a prized top pick in the lottery sweepstakes to assist in their recovery?

Here, no one is fazed nor are they particularly angry at the reversal in fortune. Los Angeles is not the type of town that changes allegiances after two years of broken basketball. The Lakers fall from grace has yet to absorb five inches beneath the warm soil. Right now, the Lakers misery is still on the surface, the kind of water that spills into the street but doesn’t really flood anything. Several more years of this basketball nightmare coupled with Clippers championship parades will be needed for the entire Lakers ecosystem to be wrecked behind repair.

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As good as the Clippers have been this season, they have not been great. They waived former Laker Jordan Farmar who is now playing overseas. Doc Rivers brought in his son who is a reluctant and not particularly adept shooter but can defend with his feet and quick hands. The Clippers are a great starting five but their bench routinely underperforms as they give up leads and rebounds and possessions while their stars are resting. It doesn’t bode well for a deep playoff run even though the Clippers can still finish as high as a number 3 seed or as low as a number 6 seed.

Conversely, the overachievement by the Lakers is often overlooked by the pure pathetic shape of their season. Truthfully, the Lakers have 5 more wins than they deserve. Atlanta, Chicago, Toronto, Philadlephia, Milwaukee. The Lakers have exceeded their ceiling, notching their 20th win of the year with a patch tag crew of players who were not drafted or were second round picks or were lottery busts or have been traded multiple times. The best thing you can say about their coaching is that it has been as uneven and inconsistent as the players who take the floor, overmatched every minute they are competing.

Jordan Clarkson has been the lone bright spot in a dreary season of looking forward to a top lottery pick. Clarkson’s athleticism and speed has adjusted to the NBA game in the three months he has been a starter. He can control his pace which has impacted his efficiency as a starting point guard on a desperate and miserable team. He looks very comfortable in a starting role as if he belongs. Whether he can sustain that level of excellence long term when he is surrounded by better players is the million dollar question.

Clarkson’s Rookie of the Month honor was an encouraging affirmation by the NBA. His ability to make things happen for the Lakers even if he cannot get them wins was noted in the league office. Watching Clarkson succeed while the Lakers are destined to fail reinforces the idea that nothing is ever rock bottom. There is a silver lining.

Except the Clippers are on the second night of a back to back when they play the Lakers on Sunday night. Jordan Clarkson will face Chris Paul who dropped in 40 last Wednesday against Portland. The rest of the Clippers will want to get in time and then rest before the two teams play again on Tuesday.

The usual platitudes will accompany the game. The Lakers are trying hard during a tough season. The Clippers are talented and prepared to establish themselves as a contender.

But, really the city doesn’t really care, not with the passion it would if the Lakers were any good. The Clippers in the playoffs is a moment to yawn and then go back to tanking talk and thinking about the lottery. 

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