Breaking down the Lakers and Clippers

Over the past two seasons, the Los Angeles Lakers’ defensive numbers have plummeted.

They went from being ranked in the top six of the league in the 2009-2010 season to ranking 20th through five games this season. Exit head coach Mike Brown.

Locked in an early-season nosedive like this, one former coach Phil Jackson would have smugly rebuffed questions from the media and publically challenged his players in an arrogant manner. Jackson encompassed the demeanor of the Laker franchise and it was practically a match made in heaven.

Brown, on the other hand, always lacked the credibility to tell the media to “shut up,” like Kobe Bryant did last week. Brown’s upbeat and positive attitude, and his “patience” with the Princeton offense, never resonated with a team that is strictly in a win-now mode.

With the Princeton offense ditched, this team should finally start using Steve Nash for what they got him for. Creating on offense. In order to do that Nash needs the ball in his hands on offense and Dwight Howard protecting the basket behind him on defense.

Nash, 38, may be the worst defending starting point guard in the league at this point in his career. His fellow perimeter players aren’t much younger, either.

It should be expected that younger and more athletic teams will get to the basket around this bunch of Lakers.  This is why the Lakers brought in Howard.  With Howard underperforming on defense and his leaping ability tarnished by injury, the Lakers are fighting an upward battle.  If this team continues to play with an obvious lack of pride on defense they’re going to find themselves in trouble quickly, regardless of who is coaching them.

The Los Angeles Clippers are the antithesis of the Lakers in a lot of ways.

Young, deep and full of exuberant energy and chemistry, this team looks hungry and primed to be a contender in their 2012-2013 campaign.

Over the past two seasons, the Clippers have been able to put together one of the deepest benches in the NBA to complement their core of young athletic stars, and it is starting to reap rewards.

Head coach Vinny Del Negro has done a great job during his tenure. The Clippers team defense has greatly improved during Del Negro’s employment and he looks to have solidified his position with the team for years to come.

The Clippers are an ascending team that possesses the talent and potential to go to the conference finals, but their difficulty rebounding the ball may haunt them as they move into the playoffs. At the conclusion of the weekend, the Clippers ranked 25th in total rebounding in the NBA and go into a tough stretch with their leading rebounder playing hurt.

Blake Griffin’s busted bursa sac in his elbow continues to swell and cause him discomfort.  As a result, Griffin’s points and rebounding numbers are down from his career averages this year. If Griffin’s injury worsens, the Clippers’ season could take a turn for the worse. However, the team is optimistic while Griffin appears to be playing through it effectively.

The Clippers will play their next five games against Miami, Chicago, San Antonio, Oklahoma City and Brooklyn. If the Clippers come out of that stretch at 3-2 or better, they should walk away happy.


Will Reeve
Staff Writer
Published Nov. 14, 2012