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Preview: Lakers vs. Clippers

March 06, 2014|By Eric Pincus
  • Clippers power forward Blake Griffin controls the ball against the Suns in Phoenix.
Clippers power forward Blake Griffin controls the ball against the Suns… (Matt York / Associated Press )

The Clippers (42-20) have hopes for an NBA title in June. The Lakers (21-40) are eyeing the top pick in the NBA draft.

On Thursday night, the Lakers are to host the Clippers at Staples Center.

The two local teams met on the season's opening night, with the Lakers getting a huge performance from their bench to upset the Clippers, 116-103.

In January, the Clippers returned the favor with a dominating 123-87 win.

The Clippers aren't likely to have Jamal Crawford (calf) and certainly won't have J.J. Redick (back).

The Lakers are still without Nick Young (knee), Steve Nash (nerve root irritation) and Kobe Bryant (knee).

Key matchup

Blake Griffin is playing the best basketball of his career, helping the Clippers stay strong through a Chris Paul shoulder injury that knocked out the all-star point guard for 19 games.

On the season, Griffin is averaging 24.2 points on 53.2% shooting along with 9.7 rebounds a game.

Though Griffin is known for his dunking, he's improved his game as a passer, shooter and low-post player.

The Lakers have been using Wesley Johnson as their starting power forward. Although he's had some success, notably in the Lakers' win over LaMarcus Aldridge and the Portland Trail Blazers, Johnson had trouble on Tuesday with the athletic Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Pelicans.

Griffin will likely be even more of a load for the undersized Johnson.

The Lakers can also try Pau Gasol, Robert Sacre, Ryan Kelly, Jordan Hill and/or Chris Kaman on Griffin.

Gasol could have a big night for the Lakers offensively, but the Clippers' DeAndre Jordan has grown significantly as a defender.


Paul and Griffin are the major threat that the Lakers will have to deal with.

With Crawford battling a shin injury, new Clippers guard/forward Danny Granger still acclimating to the team and Redick out, the Clippers need outside shooting to keep their floor spread.

Matt Barnes is not an especially high-percentage three-point shooter (35.4%) but he's been hot over the team's last six games, hitting 51.3%.

If Barnes continues at that pace, the Clippers will make short work of the Lakers.

The Lakers have recently gotten a boost from Jordan Farmar, who is finally looking healthy after two hamstring tears sidelined him for much of the season.

Coach Mike D'Antoni has suggested that Farmar could displace Kendall Marshall in the starting lineup, which could happen as soon as Thursday against the Clippers.

Farmar had a big opening-night performance, scoring 16 points with six assists and leading the Lakers' fourth-quarter charge that stunned the Clippers.

He'll certainly be challenged against the Clippers on Thursday, but Farmar showed in October that he's undaunted playing against Paul.


The Clippers are trying to climb in the West, with home-court advantage in the playoffs as their goal.

Any games the Lakers win gives them lower odds at a great pick in the draft.

With that in mind, the Clippers are currently much better than the Lakers. Another upset is unlikely.


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Email Eric Pincus at and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.

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