Clippers have leg up on Lakers to start season
by Sam Amick, USA TODAY Sports
LOS ANGELES — As the Los Angeles Lakers’ season opens with a heavy dose of doom and gloom, with Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard & Co. already facing questions about their super team that has been anything but in their 0-2 start, their Staples Center roommates couldn’t be having more fun.
Oohs and aahs came from Los Angeles Clippers fans Wednesday — Blake Griffin dunking, contributions from a new supporting cast, point guard Chris Paul transcendent as always in a win against a Memphis Grizzlies team they downed in seven games in last season’s Western Conference semifinals.
The same night in Portland, 38-year-old Lakers point guard Steve Nash was hobbling, Bryant was fuming and the pressure that coach Mike Brown swears he welcomes was already building.
As the Lakers and Clippers set to face off Friday night in the most one-sided turf war in all of sports, the rare reality is that the title-less Clippers have a key edge on the team with the 16 NBA championships. In Year 2 of the Clippers’ grand plan, Paul and Griffin have worked out so many of the chemistry kinks that can keep a good team from evolving into an overlooked power in the Western Conference.
They are less worried about being the most talked about team than they are about being the best.
“We want to be thought of as a good basketball team, and I think we are,” Griffin told USA TODAY Sports. “Like I’ve said over and over, we’re not concerned about the Lakers and what they’re doing. We’re concerned about ourselves and making sure that we’re presenting ourselves the right way and putting our best effort on the court.”
How good could the Clippers be? Griffin scored 11 points and Paul 12 against the Grizzlies, but it was reserve guard Jamal Crawford who led the team with 29 points in 30 minutes.
“It’s fun to be a part of this, to have guys come off the bench like Jamal and score effortlessly,” Paul said. “I want to play every second of the game, but it’s fun to be on the bench and cheer guys on, because … [For more on Clippers have leg up on Lakers to start NBA season, click here.]