The Lakers have undeniably dominated the NBA landscape in Los Angeles, enjoying the warm affirmation of a championship parade as recently as last June.
But on Wednesday night, it was a Clippers town.
The Clippers ended a nine-game losing streak to the Lakers with a thorough 102-91 victory at Staples Center.
The Lakers had throttled the Clippers by an average of 20.1 points during the streak, the Clippers' last victory more mirage than recent memory: 118-110 on April 12, 2007.
But Baron Davis, not Kobe Bryant, took over the game, his 25 points and 10 assists overshadowing a brutal shooting night by Bryant (33 points on 10-for-30 shooting).
"I think right now we're in a good place," Davis said. "I know my teammates feed off me, and they feed off me talking to them all game . . . just trying to keep my energy at a high level."
It's always such a bizarre scene these days, Lakers fans almost equaling the number of Clippers fans when the teams play a designated Clippers home game. There was even a "Let's go Lakers" chant as the visitors tried to overtake the Clippers in the fourth quarter, coming back from a 15-point deficit to tie the score at 83-83.
Unfortunately for the Lakers (28-7), there was also a mock "We want tacos" chant by Clippers fans as the home team pulled away in the fourth quarter.
It was all Clippers from the start and all Clippers at the finish.
"They were down our throats all night," Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said.
In the tussle inside the battle, Chris Kaman outplayed Andrew Bynum in a matchup Jackson said he would be "very curious" to watch.
Kaman had 21 points and 14 rebounds, Bynum had 15 points and 14 rebounds.
It's too early to say an All-Star berth was at stake, but Kaman came in with better numbers, averaging 20.3 points and 9.1 rebounds, and left with a victory.
"Regardless of whether he's on a winning team or not, I think that he's got stats that do say he should be nominated for that position," Jackson said.
Bynum did manage to break a 23-game drought with his first double-double since getting 17 points and 12 rebounds Nov. 17 against Detroit.
In another head-to-head, Davis clearly outplayed Derek Fisher, so much so that Shannon Brown ultimately received more playing time than Fisher.
Fisher had three points and one assist in 20 minutes. Brown had 15 points in 28 minutes and played the entire fourth quarter.
Bryant tried his best to put the team on his back, scoring 14 consecutive points during one stretch in the third quarter. But his shot wasn't falling.
"He was just looking to ride that streak he got going in the third quarter," Jackson said. "He never could regenerate that again."
Bryant missed badly on a three-point attempt in the fourth quarter, the ball bouncing hard off the back of the rim. On another fourth-quarter play, he stepped out of bounds while trying to drive against Rasual Butler. On another, he missed badly on a left-handed runner, a product of his favoring his broken right index finger.
Bryant made one of five shots and had four points in the fourth quarter.
The Lakers were the antithesis of teamwork in the first half, struggling to put together eight assists while the Clippers had 17 en route to a 52-43 halftime lead. It didn't help that Bryant made three of 13 shots in the first half.
"There was just too much individual play," Jackson said.
Not so for the Clippers.
"It's a big win against the team with the best record in the league," Coach Mike Dunleavy said. "Our guys kept playing, kept sharing the ball."
The Clippers had 28 assists, the Lakers had 17.
Before the game, Jackson was reluctant to discuss the Lakers' streak against the Clippers.
"It'll mean something if we win 10," he said.
It never got that far.