LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 12: Baron Davis #5, Eric Gordon #10 and Blake Griffin #32 of the Los Angeles Clippers react after a foul during the game against the Miami Heat at the Staples Center on January 12, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Technically there have been two teams in Los Angeles since the '80s, when fans listened to Duran Duran on cassette tapes on the way to the Sports Arena. But since when has there really been two basketball teams worth watching in Los Angeles? The Clippers have often seemed an afterthought.
There are two teams worth watching now. The Los Angeles Clippers have arrived. And they announced that arrival with a dramatic, fun-filled 111-105 victory over the Miami Heat on Wednesday, snapping the Heat's 13-game winning streak.
Understand, the Clippers have not arrived like a powerhouse in the Western Conference to rival their co-tenants. They have not even arrived like they will be a playoff team (they dug too big a hole early on to climb out of it).
But they have arrived, as in, you need to be watching this team. Because while the Lakers are the Lakers, the Clippers may be more fun.
Fun because they have athletes all over the floor. They have rookie and YouTube sensation Blake Griffin dunking everything he can get his hands on. But it's not just a show, the Clippers are 7-3 in their last 10 games because they have become a better basketball team -- better defense on pick and rolls, better play from role players, a rejuvenated Baron Davis.
Davis -- the real secret to the Clippers turnaround -- has played well the last couple weeks. Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said that after watching tape of recent games that they expected this "good" version of Davis, who he said finally looks healthy.
Davis has stopped taking those momentum-killing pull-up threes with 20 seconds on the shot clock, and instead is attacking the rim. He has always been a guy who can set people up, but he's also the guy now settling down the offense. Davis even had a two-footed power dunk against the Heat, which had the crowd checking to make sure this wasn't Pauley Pavilion circa 1998.
The Clippers have Eric Gordon (who finished with a team-high 26 against the Heat) who is playing like an All-Star. They have guys like DeAndre Jordan and Ryan Gomes stepping up and playing well.
Consider Dwyane Wade and LeBron James impressed. They see a future for these Clippers.
"They have the talent," Wade said. "This is a young team, and I've been on a team before that didn't start out that well but once we got it going and we figured it out, it was my rookie (year), we became a pretty tough team to play, especially at home.
"So, they got to have this kind of effort every night, to be that kind of team in the Western Conference. Hopefully they see what they did right here and they could turn this franchise around."
James echoed those thoughts.
"I think the key is, for a young team, or for a team that wants to become good, like D-Wade said you have to show up every night," James said. "You can't just show up for the Heat, or show up for the Lakers, or for the Celtics. It's easy to get up for those games, it's going to be sellouts and 19,000 fans in the crowd, it's easy to get up for those games. But when you play some of the teams that record wise are not that good you still play with that same intensity."
We'll see how intense the Clippers are Friday night up in the Bay Area against Golden State. Or better yet, Sunday against the Lakers.
But you need to start watching the Clippers, they have arrived.