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Kobe Bryant says Clippers are championship worthy

January 03, 2013|By Mike Bresnahan

There's a team out there that reminds Kobe Bryant of the "Showtime" Lakers.

The Clippers.

Really?

"They're very spectacular. They're fun to watch. There's no question about it," Bryant said Thursday before going a step further. "They have higher jumpers than Showtime, though."

These are the Lakers right now, trying to catch up to their young, fun, fast local rival. They'll play them Friday in a designated home game for the Clippers.

"I think they're expected to blow us out," Bryant said. "[Fans] expect the Clippers to come out there and just run all over us."

Bryant had a foam-type material inside his right nostril while talking to reporters Friday, saying dryness from a cold was the cause of a bloody nose, not an errant elbow at practice, but the bloodied Lakers image was a fair one.

Despite the Clippers' recent two-game losing streak, the Lakers (15-16) need this one more than their counterparts.

"Obviously, yeah," Bryant said. "Just from the record standpoint, absolutely."

The Clippers (25-8) are fighting for the top record in the NBA. The Lakers might fight just to get into the playoffs, their loss to Philadelphia merely the latest in a sad string at home this season.

Bryant's the one who called the Lakers old and slow the other day, and he continued the metaphor while talking about the Clippers.

He said the Lakers needed to play cautiously against them, with more cushion on defense, the same way a slow cornerback would stand farther off the line against a quick receiver.

"They're more explosive," Bryant said. "They have a lot of explosiveness with scorers coming off the bench. We have guys that are very solid and do what we ask them to do."

The Lakers haven't lost a season series to the Clippers since 1992-93, the year Sedale Threatt was their leading scorer. A Clippers victory Friday would make them 2-0 against the Lakers with two more left this season.

Again, no less an authority than Bryant deemed the Clippers championship-worthy.

"Oh, for sure. They're definitely one of the top contenders," he said, crediting Chris Paul and Blake Griffin.

"[Paul] is extremely competitive. I think that became infectious. Blake is too, though," Bryant said. "It starts with those two guys and then they added a bunch of guys that are extremely chippy and feisty."

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