Following a hard-to-digest loss to the Philadelphia 76ers, the Los Angeles Lakers (15-16) have no choice but to look ahead. Next on the schedule, the Los Angeles Clippers (25-8) with the best record in the Pacific Division and an impressive 15-3 record at home.
On Friday, Staples Center will have a Clippers logo on the floor and a definite buzz in the air. The Lakers have lost two of their last three following a five-game winning streak. The Clippers have lost two in a row after setting a franchise record with a 17-game winning streak. Neither team is riding high at the moment, and both teams need wins to get back on track.
After Tuesday’s Lakers loss to the Philadelphia 76ers, Kobe Bryant built up Friday’s game by stating, “When [Staples Center] turns into the Clipper building, it is probably my second favorite place to play after New York. They do a really good job and have a lot of energy in the building.”
Bryant is known for lighting up every team in the league, and the Clippers are no exception. When the teams met in early November, Bryant hung up a 40-point performance in a 105-95 Lakers loss. Over the past 11 games between the Staples Center co-tenants, Bryant has averaged slightly more than 31 points per game.
“Even when [the Clippers] were awful, it was always a fun place to play because the fans really got into it,” Bryant said about playing in front of the Clippers faithful. “It’s one of those city rivalry type games.”
Although Bryant may look forward to the challenge of playing villain in front of the away fans, his numbers are consistent regardless of what logo is on the Staples Center hardwood. Going back to the 2009-10 season, Bryant has averaged just over 31 points with the floor painted with the Lakers logo and just over 31 points with the floor painted with the Clippers logo.
Coming off a difficult loss against Philadelphia, the Lakers need a win to right the ship before it starts sinking again. The Clippers are on shorter rest with Friday’s game being their fifth game in eight days including three road games over that stretch.
As for the Lakers, Friday will be only their third game in eight days, and the team has been at its home base since Dec. 26.
With the added rest and a frustrating loss motivating the team, Bryant insisted, “We’ll be ready to go.”