BILL DWYRE

Lakers are like empty suits in lopsided loss

Clippers' rise apparent as Lakers look almost like no-shows in the 123-87 loss.

 

It was a night when DeAndre Jordan actually clanked two dunks and it didn't matter. Little else went wrong for the Clippers on Friday.

Or right for the Lakers.

The final score was 123-87 and it wasn't that close.

Rivalry? What rivalry?

The largest previous margin of victory by the Clippers over the Lakers was in 1992, when they won by 31. The worst Lakers' defeat ever, 129-83, was to Portland in 1992. This time, the Clippers got to within 10 of that.

BOX SCORE: Clippers 123, Lakers 87

Staples Center started to empty with six minutes left. Give fans credit. Watching brutal beatings is hard to stomach. Shading ones eyes from public pathos is the responsible thing to do.

This was the Denver Broncos versus Beverly Hills High jayvees. It was Pete Sampras versus the kid with the wooden racket and broken strings; Floyd Mayweather Jr. versus anybody else.

Six months ago, this looked like a big deal on the schedule, one of four regular-season games matching the hallway rivals, the Lakers and Clippers of Staples Center. It was to be the best of the NBA in Los Angeles, big boy versus big boy, Kobe in Lakers purple and CP in Clippers red and white.

Think of it then as a $500 ticket. Think of it now as a $5 ticket.

At halftime, the Clippers led, 70-52. By the end of the third quarter it was 101-60, and Lawler's Law — first team to 100 wins — had clicked in. Clippers announcer Ralph Lawler is adamant about such things. It is the law.

In the first two periods, the Clippers were scary good, the Lakers scary mediocre. One team had history, the other had a team.

The stars were MIA. Kobe Bryant was missing for the Lakers because of an injury. Chris Paul was missing because of an injury. That makes the summary of the game simple. Paul's supporting cast is light years better than Bryant's.

With Paul healthy, the Lakers won the teams' first matchup in the season opener, 116-103.

But now, just 21/2 months later, the Clippers are real good and the Lakers aren't. Before the game Friday night at Staples, the Clippers had won four of five and had a 25-13 record. The Lakers had lost nine of 10 and were 14-22.

Injuries clearly took the bloom off the rose of this one, although one might make the argument that Bryant and Paul were a fairly even tradeoff.

Doc Rivers, Clippers coach, was asked if this is the result of the NBA's heavy schedule and difficult travel — that in essence the league, in pursuit of the almighty dollar, was eating its young.

"Not sure about that," Rivers said, "but I do know there are lots of injuries this year, lots of point guards out."

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