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It's Showtime with the Clippers, says former Laker Magic Johnson

The Lakers have their drama and their history, but right now the other L.A. team has the winning record and the exciting play.

December 26, 2012|By Broderick Turner
  • Blake Griffin and the Clippers have won 14 straight games.
Blake Griffin and the Clippers have won 14 straight games. (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles…)

Imagine playing better basketball than the Los Angeles team with all of the history and the second-most NBA championships and still seemingly flying under the radar.

More so, imagine having the league's best record and still seemingly being just a blip on the consciousness of basketball fans.

Now imagine being the Clippers, the team with a league-best 22-6 record and league-best 14-game winning streak.

"I wouldn't necessarily say they are flying under the radar," TNT basketball analyst Reggie Miller said in a phone interview Wednesday. "They have just been overshadowed, more so, especially in their hometown, by all the Laker drama. If there wasn't any Laker drama, I'm sure more people would actually know that the Clippers do have the best record in the NBA...."

Miller added that casual fans who tuned in only on Christmas Day and saw the Clippers easily beat the Denver Nuggets might be surprised that this franchise is playing so well, adding, "But if you're a basketball purist, you know how good this team is."

Good enough to be considered in the NBA championship discussions?

"They certainly should be," Miller said. "I think what they are doing now with the 14-game winning streak, that's great. But it's only regular-season games.

"For the Clippers, for this to be validated and for them to really try to take a stronghold on the L.A. market — with the Dodgers, Angels, the Kings winning the Stanley Cup and, obviously, with the Lakers — they've got to get to the Western Conference finals and/or NBA Finals. Either/or would be great. If they get to the Western Conference finals, I'm happy. That's a great accomplishment for them."

Fans do seem to know that the Clippers are one of the more exciting teams in the league, that they are known for being called "Lob City."

The Clippers are third in the NBA in fastbreak points, averaging 17.8 per game.

And when they get out and run, it's usually Chris Paul throwing a lob to Blake Griffin or DeAndre Jordan for a dunk.

Or it's Jamal Crawford pulling up for a three-pointer or creating a shot with a crossover or behind-the-back dribble. Or it could be Paul or Eric Bledsoe attacking the basket.

"I thought I would never, ever see Showtime again," former Laker and ESPN analyst Magic Johnson said on ESPN on Tuesday night. "And I was the architect of Showtime. The Clippers? That's Showtime."

The country again will get a chance to see the Clippers when they play the Boston Celtics on Thursday night in a nationally televised game on TNT.

Miller will be working that game at Staples Center with TNT color commentator Marv Albert and analyst Chris Webber.

"This will be my first live action of seeing the Clippers," Miller said, laughing. "And what I'm really looking forward to? To me on paper, the two best point guards in Rajon Rondo and Chris Paul go at one another."

After Tuesday night's victory over the Nuggets, Lamar Odom pondered how good the Clippers can be.

He won two NBA championships with the Lakers and has been to three NBA Finals, so his perspective was needed on how the Clippers should view their prospects.

"You can't tell the future, but you try to prepare for it as much as possible," Odom said. "So with practice and hard work and dedication and playing as a team, we're trying to prepare to be the best team in the NBA, obviously."

Odom then was told by a media member that the Clippers appear to have all the pieces in place for a run at the championship.

After all, the Clippers have two All-Stars in Paul and Griffin, an NBA sixth man of the year candidate in Crawford and a deep team with one of the best benches in the NBA.

"I'll leave that up to you," Odom told reporters. "I don't want to rile nobody up. It's easier to sneak up on people.

"But we have a great mixture of youth, experience, players in their prime, players that have played in big games. We're playing to compete and to play our best. That's what we keep striving for."

broderick.turner@latimes.com

twitter.com/BA_Turner

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