Dwight Howard #12 of the Los Angeles Lakers controls the ball against DeAndre Jordan #6 of the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center on November 2, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. The Clippers won 105-95 and are scheduled to host the Lakers on Friday, Jan. 4, 2013.
The Los Angeles Lakers are going to win on Friday night, and that is not because they are a better team than the Los Angeles Clippers. For the second time this season, the schedule makers have picked the winner in Los Angeles’ basketball rivalry game.
In the first Lakers and Clippers showdown of the 2012-13 season, the Lakers were playing their third game in four nights to start the season. Included in those three games in four nights was an away game in Portland, actually making it three games and two flights in four days. The Clippers, on the other hand, were only playing their second game of the season, had yet to step foot onto a plane, and had a couple nights to rest up before taking the Lakers down 105-95.
This time around, the roles are reversed.
The Clippers are staggering following back-to-back losses on the road on Tuesday and Wednesday. Going back to Dec. 27, Friday’s game against the Lakers will be the sixth game in nine days for the division leading Clippers, so it is easy to explain why Los Angeles’ basketball step-child is currently on a two-game skid.
Over the nine days leading up to Friday’s game, the Clippers will have boarded a flight to Utah, taken a jet back to Los Angeles, hopped back in the sky to lose big in Denver, jumped onto another plane up to Oakland to get blown out, and then finally boarded a flight back home to Los Angeles to take on the Lakers on Friday night.
Over those same nine days, the Los Angeles Lakers will have beaten the Portland Trail Blazers in blowout fashion, practiced hard two days in a row, lost in woeful fashion to the Philadelphia 76ers, taken a day off to recover, had a full-contact practice to prepare for the Clippers, and ‘traveled’ to face the Clippers at Staples Center.
For those keeping count: that is zero flights and two spaced out games for the Lakers versus five flights, two back-to-backs, and five games for the Clippers in the week leading up to the rivalry game on Friday night.
Sometimes, the NBA schedule causes a losing streak for a good team. Right now, the Clippers have already started 2013 with two losses in a row, and a third loss is looking likely for a team that is considered championship-caliber by just about anyone who has seen them play this season.
The Lakers have lost two of their last three and face a daunting week ahead. The game against the Clippers kicks off a stretch of five games in eight nights for Kobe Bryant and company. The purple and gold play at home on Sunday evening before a quick back-to-back Texas two-step on Tuesday and Wednesday. To end the week, Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder come to pay a visit next Friday night.
Considering the need to rebound from Tuesday’s loss, the massive scheduling advantage, and the desperation to get back to .500, Friday night should be a Lakers victory. Also, having Steve Nash back on the floor and no longer having Mike Brown on the sidelines certainly helps the Lakers’ chances this time around.