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Clippers vs. Lakers - Game Preview

2009/2010 NBA Regular Season
Staples Center (Red Trim)
April 14th, 2010, 7:30 PM
FSN Prime Ticket, 980 AM
Probable starters:
Steve Blake
PG Derek Fisher
Rasual Butler
SG Shannon Brown
Travis Outlaw
SF Ron Artest
DeAndre Jordan
PF Lamar Odom
Chris Kaman C Pau Gasol

The Back Story:

The Big Picture:

Last game of the season, and it ends where it began, against the dreaded Lakers.  The Lakers actually have something to play for as of this moment - if Orlando were to lose at home to Philadelphia, then a Lakers win would give them home court against the Magic should each of them survive to a Finals rematch.  Of course, with PHI-ORL tipping off at 5 PM Pacific Time (it must be on ESPN with that late Eastern start), the Lakers will know the outcome before the LA battle tips.  And let's face it - Orlando isn't going to lose to the Sixers.  Which also impacts this game, because Philadelphia is the only team that can help the Clippers in the lottery odds race to the bottom at this point.  The Clippers will definitely be without Baron Davis and Drew Gooden for this game, and they'll probably be without Eric Gordon.  In other words, they will struggle on offense, and be generally worse than they usually are.  There are still two reasons to watch - DeAndre Jordan and Craig Smith.  DJ is the one developing player to watch right now, and Smith has had some huge games against the Lakers as a Clipper, going all the way back to the pre-season. 

The Antagonist:

Like the Clippers, the Lakers will be playing without multiple starters.  Neither Kobe Bryant nor Andrew Bynum will be in this one, and after Orlando wins their game, it wouldn't surprise me if they shut down Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom and Ron Artest as well. In other words, we could be watching DJ Mbenga, Josh Powell, Adam Morrison, Sasha Vujacic and Jordan Farmar against DeAndre Jordan, Steve Novak, Travis Outlaw, Mardy Collins and Bobby Brown.  Fun.  The Lakers have been downright mediocre since the all star break, and worse than that over the last three weeks.  They're 4-6 in their last 10 games, with three of the wins coming against the likes of Sacramento, Minnesota and Houston.  One win in five losses in your final six games against playoff teams does NOT bode well entering the playoffs, particularly when you were the presumptive favorite entering the season.  None of this much matters tonight.  No one is going to care about this game, but the Lakers will undoubtedly care more, because the Clippers are absolutely world class at not-caring.  

The Subplots

  • Lakers-Clippers fateful dates.  The Lakers have inadvertently been all around the big dates in the Clippers' season.  Not only were they the opening day opponent, it was during the build up to that game that Blake Griffin's injury was first announced (you know, the one where he was going to miss six weeks).  Then, the high point of the season came on Jan. 6th when the Clippers beat the Lakers.  After that game, they were 16-18 and riding a 3 game winning streak with the supposed return of Griffin just around the corner.  A mere nine days later when the teams met again, the Clippers' season was in shambles.  Griffin was undergoing surgery and out for the year, and the season was already starting to unravel.  A 40 point loss to the Lakers, punctuated by a 73-36 second half, was the official low point.  It remains the largest margin of defeat on the season.  And now, they meet in the last game of the season, and hopefully the last Clippers game before Griffin makes his pro debut.
  • Race for the ping pong balls.  The Sixers have 27 wins, the Clippers have 28 and the Knicks have 29.  The Clippers are currently 8th worst.  As I mentioned, the Sixers will probably lose in Orlando (the Magic have incentive to win).  The Knicks will probably lose in Toronto (the Raptors have MASSIVE incentive to win - the playoffs ride on it).  Both games will be over by the time the Clippers tip off.  So my guess is that they'll looking at 8th with a loss, tie for 8-9 with a win.  Is it worth losing some ping pong balls to beat the Lakers, even the Lakers second team?  Sure it is.  But it probably won't happen, so you'll have to content yourself with the ping pong balls.
  • TV Quote: 

    Everyone always wants new things. Everybody likes new inventions, new technology. People will not be replaced by machines. In the end life and business are about human connections. And computers are about trying to murder you in a lake. And to me the choice is easy.

    Michael - The Office, Dunder Mifflin Infinite (2007). Laker quotes don't really exist, so I'm going with another 'lake' quote.  When Michael drove into the lake because the GPS in his rental car told him to turn, it was funny, but not very realistic, right?  Then again, I think the ClipperWidow might drive into a lake if her Nuvi told her to.  She's pretty dependent on the thing at this point. 
  • Get the Lakers perspective at Silver Screen and Roll.