10:30 PM ET, October 29, 2013
STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, CA
It has happened. The Los Angeles Clippers have usurped the Los Angeles Lakers as the city’s top team. Even with the addition of Doc Rivers to coach up an already talent-laden roster, the Clippers aren’t quite content with merely being No. 1 in Los Angeles.
However, they team are on their way to accomplishing more starts versus the Kobe Bryant-less Lakers in a designated road game tonight.
The Lakers (45-37) were the ones with championship expectations entering 2012’s NBA season following the acquisitions of Dwight Howard and Steve Nash. Both star players were plagued by injuries while Bryant suffered a torn Achilles tendon prior to a first-round sweep at the hands of San Antonio Spurs, and Howard bolted for the Houston Rockets after his contract expired.
The Clippers (56-26) swept the basketball season series for the first time since coming to Los Angeles, winning four meetings by an average of 13.2 points. Now being better than their historically superior arena mates appears to be the least of their problems.
The team has been successful in the regular season, as their 96 victories over the last two rank fifth in the league. But after a second-round exit last year, they were eliminated in the first round by the Memphis Grizzlies even while jumping out to a 2-0 series lead.
The Clippers fired Vinny Del Negro and dealt a future first-round pick to the Boston Celtics to acquire Rivers’ services.
Chris Paul should be happy with more weapons at his disposal, particularly with a deeper group of reserves. The Clippers added a bevy of 3-point options in J.J. Redick, Jared Dudley and Byron Mullens, and the signing of Darren Collison should also help the 28 year-old point guard find more time to rest.
The Lakers come into this game with a roster full of question marks after a championship-or-bust season went bust. No firm timetable has been set for Bryant’s return, so the responsibility of leadership — and production — appears to fall squarely on the shoulders of Nash and Pau Gasol while Bryant recovers.