The Lakers suddenly have some catching up to do with the Clippers, and not just in the Pacific Division standings.
The Lakers' home sellout streak ended at 270 regular-season games Tuesday when they were a little short of the 18,997 capacity at Staples Center against the New Orleans Pelicans.
The Lakers sold out 320 straight games including playoffs before drawing 18,426 fans Tuesday.
The last non-sellout for the Lakers at Staples Center came Dec. 6, 2006, against New Orleans/Oklahoma City in front of 18,535 fans.
Meanwhile, the Clippers have sold out 97 consecutive home games dating to Feb. 2, 2011, and remain on track to reach 100 games Monday against Memphis, according to a team spokesman.
The Clippers are also making gains on their hallway rival in the secondary ticket market. According to a Forbes.com report, the average price for the Clippers' two home games against the Lakers this season is $40 more than the price when the Lakers play host to the Clippers.
Lakers tickets on the secondary market are still going for $70 more on average than Clippers tickets, according to Forbes, though that is down significantly from three years ago, when the gap between the teams was $150 per ticket on average.
Forbes reports that Lakers tickets are the third-most expensive in the league this season, behind Miami and New York.
Kobe Bryant and Denver Nuggets Coach Brian Shaw talk once or twice a month, a friendship that started as Lakers teammates and evolved into a player-coach relationship when Shaw became a member of Phil Jackson's staff.
When Shaw was still playing, he remembered telling a 20-something Bryant that age would eventually be a large part of the equation.
"He always felt invincible and I would always say, 'Hey, Father Time will catch up with you at some point and ice will be your best friend,' " Shaw said. "I think he's seeing that now, but if anybody can come back and defy the odds in terms of the injury that he's dealing with, my money would be on him to be able to do that."
Bryant is sidelined at least two more weeks while recovering from a torn Achilles' tendon.
Shaw says he tells stories of Bryant's well-known work ethic "all the time" to players.
"It's been one of my best tools," he said.
When Shaw was an assistant coach with the Indiana Pacers, he worked extensively with budding superstar Paul George, who grew up in Palmdale and idolized Bryant.
"If [George] was trying to cut corners or wanted to just do enough to get through practice, I would always remind him that I'd seen the best guy at that position work every day and that it was no accident that he's as good as he is," Shaw said. "Kobe has a uniqueness about him in terms of his will to compete and to want to be the best.
"What people don't really understand is the discipline to just come in the morning and stretch for 30 minutes by yourself when no one else is around and do the therapy and the rehab and get your work in before practice even starts. When practice does come around it's like a second practice for him.
"He used to come in at six o'clock in the morning. By the time the coaches got in ... he had already been through a full sweat and was kind of winding down from his own personal workout."
Bolch reported from Los Angeles. Bresnahan reported from Denver.