Sunday’s final 2012-2013 match-up between LA’s two NBA teams looked just like the early games from the start of the season, when the high-flying Clippers brought “showtime” back to Los Angeles basketball, running and jumping the “Old and Slow” Lakers off the court. After several months of ups and downs, but mostly “ups” for the Clippers, and ups and downs and mostly “downs” for the Lakers, the reality should now sink in for even the most ardent Lakers’ fans – the team has no direction, cohesiveness, or athleticism (with only a couple of exceptions), and a total inability to play defense and the worst bench in the NBA mean the last five regular season games will be their last five games.
Utah, and still possibly even Dallas, will end ahead of the Lakers, in a season that has seen
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|the Clippers win their first Pacific Division title, and sweep the Lakers in all four meetings. Watching the Lakers meander back and forth, up and down the court on Sunday, one sees the shell of a former great team. One sees Kobe Bryant trying desperately to will the team to victory, as Deeee-Wight laughs of bad play after bad play, as the old and currently disabled Steve Nash watches from the sideline, as he has for the majority of the season, as Pau Gasol embarrasses Howard by actually giving 100% when he has the rare opportunity, and as non–entitles such as Jodie Meeks try to justify a tiny percentage of the yearly salary they could not actually earn over a lifetime.|
Sunday, the massive 6′-11″, 280 lb Howard played just short of 40 minutes, and with his usual commanding presence, innate ability, and rabid enthusiasm, managed to collect the grand total of FOUR rebounds, while Clipper center DeAndre Jordan collected 13 in only 28 minutes. As has been the case throughout the season, the Lakers’ bench was trounced by the opposing subs. The Lakers’ bench scored 19 points compared to Clippers’ reserves accounting for 36.
The Clippers, on the other hand, had a monster performance, shaking off the cob webs of a few days of uneasy losses, bad press, and once again, questions about coaching. But on the court, the play of Chris Paul and Blake Griffin was spectacular, the supporting case productive, and the defense again overpowering. They will have a tough playoff match-up to begin the postseason, but they once again appear to have the energy and motivation to go along with the talent to make this a truly historic season.