As the All-Star break draws near, the identities of the Los Angeles NBA teams become more clear. Despite a few injuries, the Los Angeles Clippers are contending for a playoff spot. The Lakers are still battling for every win, but has improved from last season.
The matches in which the L.A. teams battle each other has displayed the strengths and weaknesses of the Clippers and Lakers. In the two meetings they had so far, each team has defeated the other.
The Pros and Cons
The Clippers have as many wins as the Lakers have losses, the players’ talent rises above others in the NBA. Center DeAndre Jordan is first in the league in field goal percentage with 68.8 percent, his 13.9 rebounds per game puts him in second place in that category. Point guard Chris Paul leads the league with 2.3 steals per game.
Paul is a major key to the Clippers’ victories; the team struggles to replace the 18 points he provides per game. His assists also are missed, an example of this was their Christmas game against the Lakers when Paul was out with a hamstring injury. Despite guards J.J. Redick and Jamal Crawford scoring 22 points each, the Clippers lost 102-111 against the Lakers. Jordan only scored 7 points that night.
In their first season without NBA superstar Kobe Bryant, guard Lou Williams has become the leading scorer of the team with 18 points per game. Against the Indiana Pacers on Friday, he scored 27 points for the Lakers’ 108-96 victory.
Small forward Nick Young has also stepped up with more playing time and with points per game than last season. He was 17th in the league in three-point field goal percentage with 41.6 percent as of January 22.
The Lakers have a talented young core with veteran new additions Loul Deng and Timofey Mozgov, however the team lacks offensive consistency from game-to-game. After putting up over 20 points for three straight games last week, Williams scored 15 points when the Lakers fell 73-122 to the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday.
Out of the 12 games played in January, Young scored above 10 points six times and scored 20 points or higher three times.
Starters on both teams have missed several games, the contributions of Paul, guard D’Angelo Russell have been missed as of late. Russell has been benched for up to two weeks due to a sprained MCL and a right calf strain.
Since Paul has been out since January 16 with an injured thumb after playing for 14 minutes against the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Clippers would win that game 120-98, but dropped their next two games.
Griffin and forward Larry Nance Jr. are returning to the hardwood for their respective teams. Griffin had been out since December after having a procedure done to his right knee. Nance Jr. returned on Sunday, giving the Lakers 4 points in their loss against the Mavericks.
The Clippers are on the road to the Playoffs with a competitive arsenal. The Lakers have budding talent in their young players. The triumphs and obstacles both teams face keep their fans entertained.