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It's two easy for Lakers

Clippers try to remain optimistic

October 30, 2008|MARK HEISLER | ON THE NBA

Is there no one who can beat this team?

Still undefeated, the Lakers rolled over another team Wednesday night by a tidy score of 117-79 (in case they didn't notice, it was the Clippers).

At this point, only haters and Celtics fans can deny the Lakers' greatness. Around here where we know our hoop, assuming it comes dressed in purple and gold, the first radio talk show host (Steve Mason) has already said the magic word, or number, "70."

Seventy-five, anyone? How about 80?

Of course, it's true, as the naysayers point out, no one ever won anything in the NBA in November (or December, January, February or March). This must be even more true for October . . . the more so since this was only the Lakers' second game.

But they have looked great, haven't they?

"All their guys back, they're healthy, all kinds of size, rebounding," said Clippers Coach Mike Dunleavy before the game, counting up the ways he was overmatched.

"Defensively, they should be one of the top three teams in the league. And then you've got Kobe Bryant at the end of the game to cancel all bets."

With all the attention the Lakers are getting, I should mention this wasn't just another demonstration of their awesomeness.

It was also the Clippers' home opener.

At full strength, the Clippers are one of the few teams that can match up with the Lakers' towering front line. Of course, by now it feels as if the last time the Clippers were at full strength, the franchise was in Buffalo and Bob McAdoo was on the team.

Marcus Camby may still be a week away, but the Clippers did have Baron Davis in the homecoming he waited his nine-year NBA career to make.

Not that this was how Davis hoped to make it, with key teammates out and a splint on the sprained finger on his left hand.

"It is a bummer," he said before the game. "But hey, man, it's the league, it's a long season. I mean, our season is not based on this game."

In a tantalizing look at what the Clippers could be, Davis was great, turning the game around after the Lakers went up, 16-7, in the first 4:38, looking as if they would put another team away in the first quarter (the night before it took only 6:57 to go up by 10 over the Trail Blazers).

Davis finished the first quarter with five points, four assists and three steals, and the Clippers actually took the lead.

So the Lakers just blew them out in the second quarter instead, with their second unit starting a 17-0 run as Jordan Farmar scored five of the points and had two assists.

It's nice to report the Clippers crowd was forgiving. No matter how bad things got for the "home team," the fans never booed.

They were too busy chanting "Let's go, Lakers!" and when Bryant shot free throws, "MVP!"

This rivalry is tough for the Lakers. Instead of the usual 19,000 people cheering for them in Staples, it's only about 15,000 of the 19,000.

"So what else is new?" Dunleavy said. "I mean that's the way it is. They've had a great run. They've got a Hollywood crowd that can afford to pay scalpers' prices for tickets.

"The good news is, we hope that maybe we can get them to come to our side."

That's what you call an optimist.

On the other hand, things have been worse. Two words: Sports Arena.

"I just think for me, I'm in a good position to be on a team that has nothing but ground to gain," Davis said before the game.

"I mean, there's a lot of upside. Nobody expects us to do anything. We never have. For us it'll be a great opportunity to come out and do a little something to create a winning attitude."

Another optimist. What could go wrong now?

It's true. One-sided as it was, it was only one loss. The Clippers have 81 games left. In the best news of all, only three are against the Lakers.

--

mark.heisler@latimes.com

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