It was the battle for Los Angeles.
No, there weren’t any scary monsters attacking L.A., although there were a few funny monsters at the Staples Center Friday Night. It was the first game between the “visiting” Clippers versus the Lakers.
There was a big Halloween event outside the Staples Center and a lot of the fans wee dressed up as their favorite old time Lakers and one group of friends dressed up as cows or chickens with Clippers and Lakers jerseys. It was a good night for L.A. basketball fans for sure.
For many years the Lakers were the dominant sports team in L.A. But in the last two years the Clippers have been building themselves into a playoff contender, and they hope, an NBA champion team. With coach Doc River’s and his new coaching staff — plus Steve Ballmer as the new franchise owner — the Clippers expect to be in and win the NBA Finals.
For the Lakers, Steve Nash was recently injured and will once again miss a season. Last year both Nash and Bryant were unable to play. The Lakers arere hoping that having Bryant healthy and leading the team will take them back to the playoffs and they were hoping to start that with a win against their cross-arena rivals.
But this isn’t the Clippers team of years past. With Chris Paul and Blake Griffin leading the team, they are, this year, the dominant NBA team in town.
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Once the game started Friday the Clippers jumped on the Lakers early. Jeremy Lin started the game with a 3-point jumper for Lakers. But just in the first quarter five different Clippers scored as they spread out their offense. By the end of the quarter the CLippers were leading by nine, 31-22.
The Lakers acquired Jeremy Lin and Carlos Boozer in the off-season and there were indications those deals were going to pay off foe them. Lin had 17 points and four rebounds and Boozer had 9 points and seven rebounds. For the Lakers these are contributions they can build on as the team improves throughout the season.
The big question for the Lakers is how is Kobe Bryant. He played 35 minutes and scored 21 points with four rebounds.
The Lakers may be without Steve Nash, but they are getting a lot of offense from many different players; Kobe Bryant, Jeremy Lin, Carlos Boozer and Jordan Hill really carried the team.
The Clippers though are looking great. Chris Paul finished the night with 12 points, two steals and 10 assists. He is one of the best point guards in the NBA right now. Shooting guards Jamal Crawford and J.J. Reddick combined for 37 points; the Clippers can have always have a dangerous shooting guard on the court.
The big offensive weapon for the Clippers remains Blake Griffin who finished Friday’s game with 39 points. If the Lakers could have slowed him down they might have won the game. But, one of the other Clippers would have stepped up their game, so it is hard to tell. The Clippers are just that good.
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The final score on the night was 118-111. The Lakers got close and actually led the game briefly, so it was a tough loss for the Lakers, but they will improve.
On Saturday the Lakers lost to the Golden State Warriors, 127-104 and have extended their losing streak to four. It’s a humbling way to start the season, losing the first four games.
The Clippers are 2-0 to start the season and tonight they will meet the Sacramento Kings (1-1) in the Staples Center, looking to extend their winning streak to three.
All photos by Claudia Gestro