"Lake Show", basketball, Clipper Nation, Clippers, Hallway Series, hoops, Laker Nation, Lakers, Lob City, Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, National Basketball Association, NBA, pro basketball, Sports Illustrated, Staples Center, Western Conference
The Lakers’ Brandon Ingram (left), guarding the Clippers’ Avery Bradley (right) during a recent preseason game. Photo courtesy of latimes.com
A LOOK AT THE TWO TEAMS IN THE NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION THAT CALL DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES’ STAPLES CENTER HOME AS THE SEASON BEGINS
- ppg: points per game
- rpg: rebounds per game
- apg: assists per game
LOS ANGELES LAKERS
72nd Season – 59th in Los Angeles
2017-18 Record: 35-47, Third place in the NBA Western Conference’s Pacific Division
- Finished 23 games behind the Golden State Warriors
- Did not qualify for the playoffs
Coach: Luke Walton, 3rd Season
Key Players (2017-18 stats):
- LeBron James, F: 27.5 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 9.1 apg with the Cleveland Cavaliers (rpg & apg career highs)
- Rajon Rondo, PG: 8.3 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 8.2 apg with the New Orleans Pelicans
- Lonzo Ball, G: 10.2 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 7.2 apg
- Brandon Ingram, F: 16.1 ppg, 5.3 rpg
- Kyle Kuzma, F: 16.1 ppg, 6.3 rpg
- Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, G: 13.4 ppg, 5.2 rpg
First Game: Thursday, October 18th, at the Portland Trailblazers
First Home Game: Saturday, October 20th, vs the Houston Rockets
LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS
49th Season – 35th in Los Angeles
2017-18 Record: 42-40, Second place in the NBA Western Conference’s Pacific Division
- Finished 16 games behind the Golden State Warriors
- Did not qualify for the playoffs
Coach: Doc Rivers, 6th Season
Key Players (2017-18 stats):
- Lou Williams, G: 22.6 ppg, 5.3 apg
- Tobias Harris, F: 19.3 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 3.1 apg
- Danilo Gallinari, F: 13.5 ppg, 4.8 rpg
- Patrick Beverly, G: 12.2 ppg, 4.1 rpg
- Montrezl Harrell, F?C: 11.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg
- Avery Bradley, G: 9.2 ppg, 3.7 rpg
First Game/First Home Game: Wednesday, October 17th, vs the Denver Nuggets
Clippers forward Tobias Harris battling a New Orleans Pelican during a preseason game earlier this month. Photo courtesy of fanduel.com
HALLWAY SERIES, LAKERS vs CLIPPERS – BY THE NUMBERS
Home: Staples Center, capacity 18,997
Games Played: 149
All-Time Series: Lakers lead, 99-50
Last Season: Clippers won the series, three games to one
Last Game: Lakers won, 115-100, on April 11, 2018
- Lakers: 16 straight
- Clippers: 11 straight
* Clippers have won 21 of the past 24 games over the Lakers
- Friday, December 28, 2018 (Lakers’ designated home game)
- Thursday, January 31, 2019 (Clippers’ designated home game)
- Monday, March 4, 2019 (Lakers’ designated home game)
- Friday, April 5, 2019 (Clippers’ designated home game)
Highlights from the Lakers-Clippers preseason game at Honda Center in Anaheim on October 6th, the Clippers winning 103-87. Courtesy of YouTube (click on the link).
A FEW THOUGHTS:
DeAndre Jordan is gone.
Blake Griffin is long gone.
Chris Paul is even longer gone.
None of those three charter members of “Lob City” are wearing Clipper uniforms anymore.
But LeBron James is now wearing a Laker uniform.
While I’m not predicting a complete return to the 1980s and 90s, when the Lakers absolutely ruled SoCal and the Clippers, well…they were named by Sports Illustrated as the worst franchise in sports at that time; I think even UCLA would have given them a run for their money of not outright beaten them back then,
It’s probably the safest thing to say that after five years of unprecedented ineptness and futility, the Lakers became relevant again the day they signed LeBron.
As for those Clippers, I don’t think any of them would be recognized if they walked around Venice Beach, West Hollywood or Santa Monica’s Third Street Promenade – or anywhere else in L.A. for that matter.
Make no mistake, not only are owner Stave Ballmer and Doc Rivers overseeing a rebuilding project for their team, Ballmer in particular is concentrating his focus on getting a new arena built in Inglewood, next to the Rams and Chargers’ new palace, within the next few years.
Which I see as good for their identity, to get them out of the Lakers’ shadow at Staples Center (at least physically).
As for this year, however, if the Clippers make the playoffs, it will be as an eight seed with around 40-45 wins at best as they will spend this year purging themselves from the “Lob City” era.
As such, I see them winning between 35-40 games with no postseason, as they are too much in a rebuilding mode.
Meanwhile, across the hall at Staples, as far as that iconic purple and gold-clad franchise is concerned:
LeBron James, as well as Rajon Rondo, along with everything else are the perfect veteran mentors for that young and growing Laker team.
All LeBron in particular has to do for motivation and inspiration is to show his championship rings and say, “You want one of these?”, and as sure as I’m typing this Ball, Ingram, Kuzma, and all the other young Lakers will gulp LeBron’s Kool-Aid by the gallon.
Despite having the best basketball player of the 21st century and a more than solid veteran guard wearing Laker uniforms, however,
Unlike seemingly every other Laker fanatic, I’m not close to crowning them champions, as the young guys have to grow a bit more.
Plus the following teams will provide a very thick concrete barrier to any championship glory in late June:
- The Oklahoma City Thunder (to a slightly lesser degree),
- The Houston Rockets, and especially the…
- Golden State Warriors
Considering where those Lakers have been the past five years,
Being that with LeBron signing his name on the bottom of a piece of paper, along with adding Rondo, the Lake Show has instantly gone from being among the worst teams in the league to being among the top five or six teams in the conference,
Is something for Laker Nation to be glad about – at least for now.
As of right now, they are definitely a playoff caliber team as I see them winning around 45 games – with a chance of 50 wins if things go perfectly – and finally making the postseason and playing into May for the first time since 2013.
I don’t see those Lakers going that far into the playoffs, however, as the best I see them is the second round, with a first round loss being every bit as plausible.
That shouldn’t discourage the Laker faithful though.
Just being in the postseason will be a significant improvement, and a sign of true progress for a franchise that has won more NBA championships save for the Boston Celtics.
The number of banner on the Staples Center rafters will remain at sixteen.
But with LeBron in the fold and the youngsters continuing to grow as players in the league,
A 17th banner will come sooner than later – if things go right.
The Clippers’ Shai Gilgeous-Alexander driving to the hoop with the Lakers’ Javale McGee contesting during their recent preseason game. Photo courtesy of bleachereport.com