THE BATTLE GOES TO CLIPPERS - A battle is something that goes on for one game, one playoff, or maybe one season. But a war is something that goes on for a long time. The Clippers are clearly winning the season battle so far and took the second game in the Battle for LA 107-102 despite a furious comeback attempt by Kobe Bryant that fell short. In the end, it was Kobe vs CP3. This time it was CP3 who prevailed. With 16 championships, the Lakers have clearly owned LA for over 5 decades. They have already won the war. But there is a new kid in town. And they are not going away.
THE RIVALRY - After last nights game, the Clippers have the 2nd best record in th NBA at 26 - 8 and would be the 2nd seed in the playoffs. The Lakers are now 15 - 17 and wouldn't even be in the playoffs if they started today. Kobe said that fans expect the Clippers to blow them out. A couple of times it started to look that way as the Clippers built a couple of big leads as high as 18 only to have the Lakers fight back each and every time to make it a competitive game. The Rivalry will resume on 2/14 with a Laker home game, followed by a 4/7 Clipper home game. The rivalry continues.
THE STREAK - The Clippers surprised the NBA with the longest win streak of the year and the 3rd longest since 2000, only to falter and lose two road games while showing little of the team that dominated the NBA during the month of December. You could see it in their faces, the energy was gone, the fire had burned out. Maybe it was the post holiday blues. Now they start a new streak with 11 straight home wins that equals the franchise record.
MAGIC JOHNSON GOES OFF...AGAIN - During halftime on the ESPN feed, Magic displayed a big smile and then started to slice and dice the Lakers organization into threads. He started to sound like a Clippers fan instead of a Laker Hall of Famer. He called the way the Lakers played "stupid." He did not call the players stupid. He was clearly talking about the coaching. The other commentators piled on as well. It was all about the Jim Buss decision to hire Mike D'Antoni instead of Phil Jackson when the team is clearly built to run PJ's system. But nobody ever said that Jim Buss knew anything about basketball.
STEPHEN A SMITH GOES OFF - I was watching ESPN this morning and during an interview he went off on how great the Clippers are. "These dudes are legitimate." He went to say that the Clippers have to be in the conversation with the other top teams when talking about who will go deep in the playoffs and contend for the title. Then the shot heard round the world. He went on to say that the Clippers "the best show in the NBA, as far as I'm concerned, since Showtime." I assume that he is talking about the Showtime Lakers of the 80's. So, that is qute a statement.
LAKERS TURNAROUND - The Lakers had begun to turn it around recently winning 5 in a row only to lose 2 of the last 3. Kobe has declared the Lakers old and slow. It definitely seems that way on defense. The offense is really a roster more designed to flourish using the triangle offense that Phil Jackson would have brought to the table. Instead, Jim Buss, forever the fool, brought in a coach who has never been successful with his teams on defense, was run out of town on his last job in NY, and has an offense more suitable for Oklahoma or Golden State. These teams are young and fast and shoot extremely well from the outside. The Lakers are none of these things.
JIM BUSS IS THE PROBLEM - How long will it take for Laker fans to revolt and run Jim Buss out of town. Magic Johnson seems to have already started his revolt. Maybe the pending nuptials of Phil Jackson and Jeannie Buss will encourage the old man to rethink the power structure in the Lakers front office. There are smarter people all over the Laker organization than Jim Buss. Maybe his dad will be the last person to figure that out.
KOBE HAS BLAKE'S BACK - Kobe actually came to Blake Griffin's defense recently while reacting to all the talk about how frustrated teams have restarted what we saw so often last season.....really hard fouls. Earlier this season, the hard fouls had subsided, mostly because Blake wasn't always the focus of the offense since the Clippers have so many weapons and the scoring is more often than not spread around to so many players. Defenses had a lot of things to worry about and Blake wasn't always their biggest problem. Chris Paul, Jamal Crawford, and Matt Barnes has been giving opposing teams fits. Kobe said that Blake should "smack the F.......out of somebody." That's Matt Barnes job. When Matt is on the floor, I would be very careful about committing a flagrant foul on Griffin. Matt is not afraid and he might just come after you, so I would stay on the ground and out of the air.