Just three days after the Clippers beat the Lakers by 48 points (a record for both franchises), the Lakers turned around and beat the Oklahoma City Thunder on national TV today. Basically, the Thunder, who looked more or less untouchable as of the All Star break and figured to get less touchable with the return of Russell Westbrook, have suddenly become stuck in the mud. They've already fallen behind the Spur in the standings and look ripe to be overtaken by the Clippers. The Clippers trail the Thunder by three games, have a home game against them coming up in April, and will own the season-series tie breaker if they win that game. Which leaves the Clippers needing to make up two games penciling in a win in April. (Oh, and for those who worry about overconfidence, it's several weeks away -- I'm certainly not penciling in a loss while imagining a scenario in which the Clippers can make up ground in the standings.)
Meanwhile, the previously red-hot Rockets were about to lose to the Trail Blazers which would have left the Clippers alone in third place in the Western Conference -- until James Harden hit a miracle three to send the game into OT. So that result may not be exactly what the Clippers want, but either Portland or Houston has to lose, so it's all good for the LAC. Now, being the three seed may or may not be a good thing at the end of the day -- the current six seed is the ever-dangerous and annoying Golden State Warriors -- but the Clippers certainly have to pass through third on their way to second.
Miami and Indiana are looking quite vulnerable at the present as well, with the Heat losing their third straight and the Pacers currently trailing the Mavericks in a game that could be their fourth straight loss. Suddenly the Spurs and the Clippers are the only teams that have the resume and the current form to justify a lot of excitement. Go figure.
The final game of the night, already under way in Oakland, features the Clippers' two closest Pacific Division rivals. Regardless of which team you're rooting for (and let's face it, the Suns are much easier to like than a team with David Lee and Andrew Bogut at the big positions), you want this to be a hard fought game -- the Suns are coming to STAPLES Center to play the Clippers tomorrow night, and the Warriors will be here on Wednesday.
If you're watching the second half of Suns-Warriors on NBA-TV, you can use this thread to discuss the days events and the conclusion of that game.