Keeping Up With The Clippers Only Worsens Lakers’ Woes

Folks in sunny southern California tend to notice when the neighbors get a snazzy new ride. Or some husband-and-wife domestic help. Or a 5-karat anything.

Bentley and Tiffany salesmen plan their kids’ college educations on it. Not just a pervasive mindset of conspicuous consumption but an avid, keeping-up-with-the-Beverly-Hills-Clampetts zeal for stuff.

But keeping up with the Clippers? This could really start to mess with minds at and around Staples Center.

If fans of the Los Angeles Lakers could, in a vacuum, resist the urge to panic over their team’s 0-3 start, fending that off when the other team in the building is unbeaten might be too much to expect. Last season, the Lakers eked out the Pacific Division crown by one game, their 41-25 just atop the Clippers’ 40-26 finish.

Finishing in front of the Clippers has been a virtual birthright – it hasn’t gone the other way since 2005-06 – but here we are with a 2012-13 schedule that’s only five days old and the “other” L.A. team is 2.5 games ahead in the standings.

More than that, the Clippers are averaging 5.7 points more than the Lakers offensively and they’re a staggering 13.5 points better defensively, yielding 93.5 so far to the Lakers’ 106.7. Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and the rest are playing with greater pace (96.4 possessions per 48 minutes to 93.2) and are pestering shooters more successfully (a 46.4 percent opponents’ effective field goal rate).

You can just hear the wailing now. Waaaa! I want that! The way things are going, we wouldn’t be surprised to catch Jack Nicholson giving Vinny Del Negro a come-hither wink.

Generally, the dynamic between the only teams in the NBA that share an arena gets chronicled in rivalry terms. And when it’s put that way, there isn’t much to compare. Beyond an occasional snide remark or an on-court moment – Paul taking offense when Pau Gasol cupped his head, Griffin sending Darius Morris flying to thwart a dunk attempt last season – the Clippers know their place. And the Lakers know they know it.

Lakers coach Mike Brown was being realistic, not smug, when asked about the relationship between the teams Friday, before the current gap between the widened:

He likened the so-called rivalry to when the Cleveland Cavaliers were trying to have a rivalry with the Boston Celtics.

“The tough part was when you would walk into the Boston building, and see I don’t know how many championship [banners],” Brown said. “That’s how you develop a rivalry, when both teams have done it.”

So for now, the rivalry terminology doesn’t fit. But at 0-3 and 2-0, something has to. How ’bout covetry?

Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980.

18 Comments

  1. Doe says:

    Comparing the Lakers of 12-13 to the Heat of 11-12 is like comparing OKC to NYK…. age is the biggest thing that sets them apart. Bosh, Wade, and LBJ were all in their prime. Nash and Kobe of the 12-13 Lakers are both have 2 years left (Nash and Kobe have both REPORTED that they are retiring after 13-14 season) and Dwight MIGHT just leave after this season.

  2. the lakers bench is not very good,this willcause them problems all year.kobe plays 43 mins in aloss 3rd game of the season? i think i hear the shark music from jaws

  3. regal says:

    that princeton offense is a big mistake! coach is sorrounded with good players but he is holding them to be themselves and enjoy the game…kobe you know better for your team..you know what to do…

  4. jerikobe says:

    fed up now!!!they will win 10 straight.. keep that

  5. kevin nicholls INDIANAPOLIS says:

    Chris Paul was ballin he just makes everyone around him better, the lakers just need time and players like Howard and Nash to get 100%, there going to be a second half team, I would like to see Phil Jackson come back.

  6. clips says:

    Way to go clippers. In all honesty I think the lakers well be fine but i also think the clippers are really good. Far better than they are getting credit for. When Chauncey gets back the clippers are going to really be a force. Thats like another 18 points a game. Mark my words.

  7. Swaggie Boy says:

    Did you guys expect the lakers to have a great start? No. Why? Because it’s just their first season with a super team since 1996-04. The heat in 2010-11, their first 17 games they were 9-8, they ended the season 49-16. I believe that the Lakers will have the same type of season and make the finals and lose to the MIAMI HEAT!!!!!

    • lol you are delusional says:

      first, you idiot, the heat never went 0-3, and they always destroyed the bad teams, they lost to good teams or very close games, hence the criticizing started with they couldn’t win close games. Second, the stars in the Heat’s team are still in their prime and young, third funny you compare them to the Heat but how about you compare them to the Knicks you fool, same as the lakers, stacked with superstars and huge salaries and in their 3 year they still aren’t elite team and not a top team in the league. Simply because their stars do not fit together, which it might be the case with the Lakers.

  8. Kamote says:

    not a laker fan… im for boston… but this team has 4 franchise players… they’ll come back.

    the problem that i see is that they try too much on having system so the big 4 can “play in harmony”. they NEED to play according to the strengths of their players, not trying to fit their stars into a system they will never be good at. Run a pick-and-roll with Nash, a high-post w/ Gasol, a low-post w/ DH and and isolation w/ Kobe. These are franchise players, they have high basketball IQs, they know how to make their team win.

    An example would be the Heat. They tried too hard 2 years ago for Wade, Bosh and Lebron to share the ball between themselves. With the talent, of course they made it to the Finals, but didn’t win it all. But last year, they just saw that Lebron and Wade can eat anyone who guards them 1-on-1. Lebron used his strength to attack, same as w/ wade. They now saw that all the offense starts with these two, so they just complemented them with shooters (and Bosh became one also). All they needed was a bunch of guys to create turnovers, who can shoot when given open looks. The Miami offense is that simple, but when you have 2 of the top 7 players, it aint that difficult to do.

    The Lakers has 4 HOFs who can still produce (in contrast with the LA team beaten by Detroit). Use their strengths, let them play. FIRE BROWN and SCR3W PRINSTON LOL.

  9. Lakers says:

    The Lakers spent so much money and effort getting megastars together to build a Super Team but to let Mike Brown coach the team is a big mistake! A good coach should’ve spent the pre-season games to let the stars, who are so unique in their individual way, to learn how to play together and build chemistry. Instead, Mike Brown wasted the preseason games for him to figure out which bench player he wants to keep or cut from the roster. A good coach should be able to figure out the bench roster from watching them during the practices. Goodluck Lakers!

    • LakersWillWin says:

      Mike Brown brought a (pre-prime LeBron James) Cavalier team to the Finals. Before everyone just loses faith in him, give the man a chance. Yes, they lost horribly to the Spurs, but Brown isn’t an AWFUL coach. I have faith, we should be talking about Eddie Jordan more so than Mike Brown right now with regards to the offense. He is the one who implements it y’no.

  10. LA Fan says:

    I love watching the Clippers and think they can make it far in the playoffs, but not winning it all. If their rebounding was better and if they would score more points in the paint, then I would consider them to have a much better chance. Despite how far OKC got last year, I still didn’t think a team who scores more from outside the key would win as easily. As much as I want to see the Clippers win a championship, I feel it is still early to bank on all these veterans to help win a ring this year. I mainly think Griffin and Jordan need some more time… but then again I could just be completely wrong

  11. Belizeboy says:

    If only the Clippers could get foul calls the way the Lakers do, then they might have shot at the finals.

    • LakersWillWin says:

      Ignorant comment, officiating was terrible on both sides last night. I am not saying that is the reason for the win OR loss. My point being, the refs blew their whistles at the dumbest calls. For instance, when Dwight “blocked” Griffin twice, those were both fouls. Kobe slashing to the basket getting hacked, while Griffin runs down the floor and gets tapped and a foul call in that same possession. So, before anyone replies saying blah blah blah Lakers biased, I witnessed poor officiating on both sides and am not claiming it was the reason for a win or loss.

  12. W/E says:

    Clippers taking over