Clippers, Lakers Meet for First Clash of the Season
Posted Nov 21 2006 10:52AM
NBA.com Daily Confidential
The Los Angeles Clippers finally stole some of the spotlight from the Los Angeles Lakers last season by advancing one round farther in the NBA playoffs.
The city rivals meet for the first time this season Tuesday night, with the Lakers as the home team at Staples Center.
The Lakers (7-3) are one of the most storied franchises in sports, and their fan base usually dwarfs that of the Clippers (6-2), who have languished as one of the NBA's doormats for much of their existence.
The tide began to turn last season, though, as the Clippers won 47 games to the Lakers' 45. The Clippers then captured a playoff series for the first time since 1976 by eliminating Denver in the first round.
Their second-round opponent was nearly the Lakers in what would have been a clash between the Staples Center co-tenants, but the Lakers blew a 3-1 series lead and lost to Phoenix in the first round. The Suns went on to eliminate the Clippers in seven games.
The Clippers, though, seemed to serve notice that they aren't to be taken lightly anymore, and their success should finally provide some buzz this season to a rivalry that's been mostly dormant.
The Lakers and Clippers have split four games each of the last two seasons. The Clippers haven't won the season series since 1992-93.
Lakers star Kobe Bryant averaged 40.8 points per game against the Clippers in 2005-06. Bryant, still getting used to playing on his surgically repaired right knee, is averaging 22.0 points in eight games.
He managed only 18 points on 5-of-14 shooting Sunday but the Lakers won their third straight, 82-72 over Chicago.
While the Lakers offense revolves around Bryant, Elton Brand is the focal point for the Clippers. Brand broke out with a season-high 33 points and 12 rebounds in a 103-97 overtime victory over Philadelphia on Saturday.
The power forward has been double- and triple-teamed throughout the early season and had averaged only 13.7 points over his previous six games.
The Clippers improved to 6-0 at home for the first time in the franchise's 37-year history as they continue to gain respect around the league.
``They are a great basketball team,'' Philadelphia star Allen Iverson said. ``They have what you need to win in this league. They have a grown man playing power forward (Brand). They have young talent, leadership in Sam Cassell, a great pickup in Tim Thomas, players who know their role, and an effective center.''
Coach Mike Dunleavy, though, was disturbed by his team's 23 turnovers. The Clippers are averaging 19 turnovers over their last three games.
``We can't put that type of pressure on ourselves,'' he said. ``We're better off just hoisting up some bad shots as opposed to some of the turnovers and carelessness we had on our execution with the delivery of our passes and timing of our passes.''
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