Pacifying the Pacific: Lakers & Clippers

J.M. Poulard —  January 14, 2012

With the Lakers scheduled to play the Lob City Clippers tonight, it would have been a travesty for Forum Blue and Gold not to reach out to Clipperblog for some good pregame ribbing. It’s the battle of Los Angeles featuring J.M. Poulard and D.J. Foster.

J.M. Poulard, Forum Blue & Gold: D.J., I’d like to thank you for joining the big leagues. Well kind of. The Clippers have faced multiple seasons of mediocrity and thus are viewed as Khloe, while the Lakers maintain Kim Kardashian status in L.A. But now all of a sudden, it seems as though the Clippers have gained some popularity and could even potentially start a rivalry with the Lakers.

We are well aware over here that Lob City took two games from the Purple and Gold in the preseason and that some Lakers players were not all that happy with some of the reactions of Clippers players after a few highlights. So I ask, whom does this game mean more to?

D.J. Foster, Clipperblog: Dude, Clippers fans would have killed for multiple seasons of mediocrity. That’s part of what makes this narrative so entertaining. I think Kobe said it best (gasp!) referencing the rivalry —  it’s about damn time. It’s about time the Clippers are challenging the Lakers, and now that the Clips are playing less like energetic kids and more like responsible adults, it makes things even more interesting. Look, in the past, these matchups meant the world to the Clippers and their seven fans. These matchups were their playoff games. I don’t need to tell you guys this, but it never even registers on the radar for the Lakers.

But the times, they are a changin’. Little brother is all grown up and is sick of getting pounded on, and now he’s standing nose-to-nose with big brother and just daring him to swing first. For the first time in a long time — maybe ever — this game probably means more to the Lakers (specifically Kobe) than it does to the Clippers. It’s easy to walk on someone’s lawn. It’s a little more difficult to tell them to get off it.

Congratulations for somehow managing to be both Kim Kardashian and Clint Eastwood, you silly Lakers. Let me throw this back to you, J.M. The game’s on the line. You have one possession. Who would you rather have with the ball? Kobe Bryant or Chris Paul?

J.M. Poulard: Funny you brought this up without me having to say it. Had you asked me last season, I would have picked Chris Paul. But at this moment in time in the NBA season, I’d go with Kobe Bryant.

Vinny Del Negro’s offense has been extremely predictable and honestly heavily dependent on the talents of Paul. Consequently, late in ball games, all we have seen is CP3 endlessly dribbling the ball and going pick-and-roll with Blake Griffin hoping to create a good shot.

The strategy failed against the Bulls and was semi-successful against the Trail Blazers at home. The game against Miami offered a different wrinkle because Caron Butler was shooting lights out, and consequently Paul was able to find him a few times for some open jumpers. But truth be told, for all of CP3’s skills, he is for the time being the unknown variable if you will; whereas Kobe is a certified assassin.

And here’s a news flash for you: if Kobe decides to go into hero mode, Andrew Bynum has proven to be a reliable put back option in the clutch.

Also, the Lakers’ big men have proven to be a little more effective at the free throw line, which promises to be an issue when the teams square off.

Lil Wayne once uttered the words “Go D.J.” and I have to now use his line in asking you this: is Pau Gasol the Blake Griffin stopper aka the Lob City killer?

D.J. Foster: Let me answer that in the most roundabout way ever: You’re cruising down the freeway late at night in the fast lane. Your stupid car flags are whipping in the wind because you’re going so fast. You catch up to the car in front of you, and for some reason he’s crawling. You’re confused, because this car in front of you is ridiculously nice. It’s got the body type and all the horsepower in the world — I mean, this car can really fly. And yet, here it is, going 55 in the fast lane and making you wonder why someone would use all that speed and power like that.

That’s Blake Griffin’s season so far. He’s a terror in the paint, but he’s drifting further and further away from the basket with more regularity, settling for 20-foot jumpers and centering his game around (yawn) jump shooting. It’s frustrating, but can you really complain? He’s putting up almost the exact same numbers as he did last year. He’s still getting you from A to B.

I love Pau Gasol. Think he’s the most skilled power forward in the game. But is he the Blake Griffin stopper? No. Blake Griffin is the Blake Griffin stopper. Pau would be wise not to flash his lights at Blake so to speak — let him shoot those long jumpers all he wants.

Now it’s time for you to give the people what they want, J.M. Let’s hear your bold predictions. Does Kobe go for 40 again? Will Lakers fans be yelling at me to “count the ringzzzz!” or will the order of the universe be restored with a victory for the Purple and Gold? Will Matt Barnes (this is the same guy who slapped his coach, no?) be left complaining about poor court conduct? The world needs answers.

*tips hat*

It’s been real — good luck tonight.

J.M. Poulard: Chauncey Billups, Caron Butler, Randy Foye and Ryan Gomes are the players that are the likeliest to be matched up with Kobe. Need I say more on the prospects of Kobe hitting the Clips for 40?

And that’s before you factor in that Kobe may still be unhappy about the fact that once the Chris Paul trade was vetoed, it cost the Lakers Lamar Odom. And now Kobe gets the chance to extract his revenge on the Staples Center rivals. But you want bold predictions right? Let’s go…

  • The Lakers will win by 5.
  • Blake Griffin won’t try to show off his impressive new handles against Gasol and will finally have a breakout game; we’re talking 30-20 here.
  • Chris Paul will have north of 15 assists.
  • Mo Williams will still look like John Legend by game’s end.
  • Matt Barnes will get called for a flagrant foul just for looking at a Blake dunk with disgust.
  • And of course, maybe Kobe can or cannot do the Dougie, but he still knows how to count as evidenced by this (not really a bold prediction, just a reminder).

With that said, the Clippers’ athleticism is scary and if they force the Lakers into a few miscues, Chris Paul could turn this one into a track meet and the Lakers are not equipped to handle that. There’s also the tiny little issue of CP3 spending the night in the painted area converting floaters and throwing up lobs to his big men that will be problematic for the Purple and Gold.

D.J., thanks for going back-and-forth with FB&G. Enjoy the game.

J.M. Poulard