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Pau Gasol downplays skirmish with Chris Paul

January 26, 2012 | 12:42 am

The Lakers and Clippers say they don't have a rivalry. 

But they sure do act like it.

The Lakers' 96-91 victory Wednesday over the Clippers ended with one image that defines the heightened animosity. After Clippers forward Blake Griffin fouled Lakers forward Pau Gasol with 1.1 seconds left, Clippers guard Chris Paul attempted to swipe the ball from Gasol's hands while the two sniped at each other. Kobe Bryant also stepped in, jawing continuously at the Clippers guard, as Gasol walked to the free-throw line. 

Gasol then put his hand on top of Paul's hand, which prompted the Clippers guard to shove Gasol's hand away and tap him on his head. 

"I got a son of my own," Paul said. "I don't know if Pau got kids, but don't touch the top of my head like I'm one of your kids. I don't know what his intentions were, and it doesn't matter. I don't know if he's got kids, but I'm not one of them."

Gasol appeared amused that Paul took offense at the incident. 

"I'm sorry he felt that way," Gasol said. "I do that all the time with my teammates. It's OK. If I touch your shoulder or back, there's nothing mean about it. It is what it is." 

And what is that exactly? From a neutral perspective, Paul acted pretty immature for trying to swipe the ball away. Gasol acted pretty immature for rubbing his head. 

"Chris is chippy," Bryant said. "I'm extremely chippy and that DNA spreads to the rest of the team. That's how it is."

And how it is with Gasol and Paul went beyond just the overall contentiousness the Lakers and Clippers displayed in a game that featured six technicals, one flagrant foul and one ejection. When the Lakers played the Clippers in two preseason games, Gasol admitted his refusal to acknowledge Paul. The Lakers initially acquired Paul in a trade that would've resulted in Gasol going to Houston, but the NBA rejected the deal. 

Instead, they find themselves on both sides of a brewing L.A. rivalry. 

"I'm not much of a talker on the floor," Gasol said. "I play hard and try to do my best to help my team. Obviously a couple guys are talking. So I'll talk back."

And rub his opponents' head too.


Pau Gasol says nothing to Chris Paul

Mark Medina and Melissa Rohlin preview the Lakers-Clippers game

Five things to take from the Lakers' 96-91 victory over the Clippers

--Mark Medina 

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Times correspondent Melissa Rohlin contributed to this report