January 4, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant (24) meets with Los Angeles Clippers small forward Matt Barnes (22) following the 107-102 loss at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
October 31st at Los Angeles Lakers
2013-14 Season Series: LAC 3-1 LAL
Last season, the Lakers had their worst season in almost 20-plus years while the Clippers won a franchise-high 57 games before being ousted in the playoffs. In the off-season, the Clippers added Spencer Hawes and Jordan Farmar to the roster, improving a 57-win team while the Lakers lost Pau Gasol, added Jeremy Lin and several other pieces, rarely moving the needle from last season.
And with all of that being a factor, the Lakers were STILL talked about more than the Clippers–during both the regular season and off-season (at least, once you remove the Donald Sterling factor because it’s non-basketball related).
That’s why these games matter. The Clippers are easily the best team in Los Angeles with two top-10 players (Paul, Griffin), a top-5 coach (Rivers), and a top-3 NBA team, yet, this group is still living in their arena neighbors’ shadow. History lends to that, but it’s a factor that drives this rivalry a step further as Lakers fans use the past to incite anger from the Clippers fan base.
Oh, and did I mention that *knocks on wood* Kobe Bryant is healthy for the first time in a year? Yeah, this’ll be a good one even if the Clippers win by 30.