NBA’s Battle for Los Angeles: Can the Lakers Hold Off the Clippers?

Back on December 8, Derek Fisher’s buzzer-beater enabled the Lakers to edge out the Clippers, their Staples Center co-tenants, 87-86. That started the Clippers on a four-game slide.

Since then, the perennial Western Conference cellar-dwellers have turned things around winning eight of their last eleven games and capping it with a statement win last night against the Miami Heat, 111-105, snapping the Heat’s 13-game road winning streak.

This was the same Miami Heat that destroyed the Los Angeles Lakers on Christmas Day, 96-80.  And, this was the same Los Angeles Clippers that began this season losing 13 of their first 14 games.

But that was then, this is now.  First year head coach Vinnie Del Negro has finally figured out the strengths and weakness of his personnel while point-guard Baron Davis, who was injured earlier in the year, has reignited the team with his on-court savvy.

Davis had his best game of the season, scoring 20 points with nine assists, as the Clippers led all the way from the opening tip off. Meanwhile, first-year wonder, Blake Griffin just seems to get a double-double every game. Last night was no exception with Griffin’s 24-point, 14-rebound performance.

Although it wasn’t quite as dramatic as Kobe Bryant tossing up 17 of his 39 points in the final six minutes to lead the Lakers past the Golden State Warriors, 115-110, I will admit that I enjoyed watching the Clippers beat the Heat much more.

Like many fans, I began watching the Lakers game and switching back and forth to the Clippers-Heat game. Fans at the ESPN Zone in downtown Los Angeles had the luxury of watching both games at the same time. The Clippers were on the smaller screen while the Lakers-Golden State Warriors game held center stage on the main screen.

As both games drew on, I found myself watching the Clippers game and switching over to the Lakers game during the comme...

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