Lakers, Clippers remain contentious
Matt Barnes remains annoyed at Blake Griffin's perceived flopping.
Just like the dunks, that's a part of his game," Barnes said. "You just got to adjust to it."
Pau Gasol remains annoyed with the Clippers' (9-5) perceived superiority over the Lakers (10-8), mainly because "they have a pretty much easier schedule than us so far," Gasol said.
Derek Fisher remains annoyed that the Clippers' two preseason victories and one regular-season win over the Lakers makes them into an archrival.
"There's too many of those up there to get into that discussion," Fisher said as he pointed at the Lakers' 16 championship banners at Staples Center during a last week's All-Access event. "At the same time, obviously for a lot of fans that aren't at this particular event, that's exciting for them. That's fair. That's fine. It's been quite some time since you've been able to be excited."
The Clippers advanced to the 2006 Western Conference semifinals to face the Phoenix Suns, which, incidentally enough, beat the Lakers in a seven-game first-round series. But Fisher has a point about how the Lakers and Clippers faced off each other. The Clippers enter Wednesday's game against the Lakers with a chance to take the season series since the two only match up three times this season. That has happened only two other times, including the 1992-93 campaign as the L.A. Clippers and the 1974-75 season as the Buffalo Braves.
"They want to come out and beat us," Lakers center Andrew Bynum said, "for all the times they beat us in the past."
But for once, Gasol has reason to take the Clippers "very seriously." And he's not making a joke.
The Clippers have something the Lakers want by acquiring point guard Chris Paul soon after the NBA nixed a trade that would have sent him to the Lakers. There's more. The Clippers boast strong outside shooting in Caron Butler and Chauncey Billups. The Lakers remain dead-last from three-point range with a 25.6% clip. The lobs Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan throw down spur the Clippers into scoring an eighth-leading 97.43 points per game. The Lakers appear so slow and disorganized that they haven't cracked the 100-point barrier in 11 consecutive games, one of those being against the Clippers.
Mix those ingredients together, and you have the Clippers trying to surpass the Lakers with their talent and potential, while the Lakers are trying to latch on to their experience and history. All of those emotions boil over onto the court.
Barnes pushed Griffin in a preseason game because he thought he flopped too much. Griffin pushed rookie Darius Morris while in the air because he took offense to him dunking after officials blew the whistle on a foul. Lakers Coach Mike Brown appeared so steamed about the non-call that he nearly stormed the court, only for assistants John Kuester and Chuck Person to hold him back. Clippers Coach Vinny Del Negro sounded so nonchalant about Griffin's push that he proclaimed it wasn't that big of a deal.
That hardly translates into a matchup as esteemed as Lakers-Celtics. But the Lakers and Clippers clearly show this game means more than just a midweek regular-season game.
"I think they're always a rivalry," Bynum said. "But now they have opportunities to win games against us."
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