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Lakers are better than the Clippers, for now

December 15, 2011 |  9:12 pm

One L.A. team continues generating buzz over their big-name acquisitions. Another L.A. team continues generating fuss over their front-office misgivings.

One L.A. team talks in giddy tones and infectious optimism about a bright future ahead. Another L.A. team talks in measured tones and forced optimism about an uncertain future ahead.

One L.A. team conjures up images of Showtime and highlight-driven performances. Another L.A. team sparks concerns on who can stay healthy and who will actually remain on the team.

It's just another NBA season featuring the Lakers and the Clippers. Except it isn't. We've entered the bizzaro world.

The Clippers beat the Lakers in acquiring Chris Paul, though NBA Commissioner David Stern partly helped with that. They have a more definitive roster in Blake Griffin, Caron Butler and DeAndre Jordan, while the Lakers' roster remains influx. And Kobe Bryant, the face of the Lakers for most of his 16-year career, admits the Clippers are the more exciting team to watch.

"I definitely would watch them," Bryant said after practice Thursday at the Lakers' facility in El Segundo. "Blake has like a 60-inch vertical. Chris is vastly entertaining. For sure, I'd definitely check them out. They're a team with a high motor, young, run up and down the floor, this that and the other."

Yes, the Clippers may be more exciting. But they're not better, and do we really have to explain why?

"We have 16 chips," Lakers center Andrew Bynum said. "I don't think they have one."

The Lakers displayed their indifference in numerous ways.

Bryatn stressed the end goal: "I'd rather look at the jewelry.

Bynum rolled his eyes and sounded sarcastic when he was asked if he considers the Clippers more exciting because Paul and Griffin will connect on a number of alley-oops: "Because they can dunk a couple times? I don't know.

Lakers Coach Mike Brown stressed it remains to be seen how this will play out on the court: "They got to go out and do it on the floor. WIth the players, they should have that opportunity."

But underneath the Lakers' dismissiveness toward the Clippers as a more legitimate cross-town rival shows an indisputable reality. The current Lakers shouldn't feel comfortable with the current franchise's direction, while the Clippers have every reason to think they can finally overcome the organization's supposed curse.

The Lakers lack so much frontcourt depth they're immediately starting a mini-mid level player to the starting lineup. They miss Lamar Odom so much that perhaps Luke Walton might even start. The Lakers lack so much athleticism that both Brown and Bryant acknowledged they might need to simply become a grinding team.

It's perhaps the most realistic approach considering their roster. But since when did that ever excite Los Angeles fans? For better or worse, the Lakers have no other choice if they want to pour cold water on the Clippers' buzz.

"We don't need to be exciting," Brown said. "We just need to win."

--Mark Medina

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