Last and least on the NBA Christmas schedule is the Los Angeles Clippers playing the Los Angeles Lakers in what has been a very one sided rivalry in recent years, but the Clippers have been so inconsistent this season it’s really hard to tell.
The sad thing about the Lakers this season isn’t their 5-24 record, but the fact that it’s hard to find something interesting about them besides the Kobe Bryant retirement tour. Sure, he’s been doing a lot better lately, not hogging the ball as much and scoring more points as part of the offense’s flow, but this should have been a season to watch Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson and D’Angelo Russell grow as players and as a trio. Right now, that’s all been put on the back burner so Bryant, who never has hidden from attention and focus, can get what he and Byron Scott consider a proper farewell.
And the result of Scott being the head coach is the Lakers being the worst team in the West, 29th best in the league offensively with 96.9 points per 100 possession and the worst team in the NBA defensively, and that’s with a self-proclaimed defensive expert on the sidelines, giving up a league worst 109.2 points per 100 possessions. Even the Sixers don’t allow points so easily, which says a lot about how bad the Lakers are defensively.
But while in past meetings the question regarding the Clippers – Lakers clash would be by how much the Clips would win, it’s hard to say that with a lot of confidence this season. The Clippers have lost three in a row to would be rivals in the Spurs, Rockets and Thunder. They’ve been unable to win against any of the title contenders in the West, often crumbling after leading in the fourth quarter. Maybe this means that fodder like the Lakers would be easy for them, but on a team with once again a problematic bench and overall what seems to be a problem with meeting expectations and playing consistent team basketball for 48 minutes, even beating the Lakers can’t be something they take for granted. As J.J. Redick put it: We’re not as good as we think we are.
Predictions: Still, with all of the Clippers problems, it’s hard to think of any game the Lakers head into as favorites. What Redick said about the Clippers? You can say the same thing about Bryant.