T.J. Simers

More Clippers voltage on an electrifying night

Vinny Del Negro said the Clippers are the best team in L.A. because their record says so, and Kobe won't argue.

Everything is just a bit off for the Lakers so far.

Jimmy couldn't make it through a weekend and got Mike D'Antoni; Jeanie was willing to wait 13 years to land Phil.

Kobe said the Lakers are old and slow, while proclaiming the Clippers "fun to watch," and "spectacular."

Vinny Del Negro said the Clippers are the best team in Los Angeles because their record says so, and Kobe won't argue.

"I think they're expected to blow us out," he said.

Kobe usually knows what he's talking about.

The wife is so excited about the Clippers she goes to see "Parental Guidance" because it stars Billy Crystal who is a Clippers fan. She pronounces it a winner.

A Times' online survey, asking who is more fun to watch, favored the Clippers 79-21. The wife voted only once.

And so here we are, as much buzz for one of these hometown encounters as most can remember with the Lakers the poor souls trying to find a way to win more games than they lose.

It's only one game, but the final outcome might help answer two important questions: Are the Lakers as hopeless as they often appear? Are the Clippers as good as their fairy tale start suggests?

Right away the Lakers catch a break.

Del Negro announces that super sub Kobe Crawford will miss the game with a foot injury.

"Oh, that's too bad," says D'Antoni, the first indication D'Antoni has a pulse during his lifeless pregame briefing with the media.

No wonder the Lakers don't always show up energized.

Crawford, as much as anyone in a Clippers uniform, is responsible for the team's dynamic start. He's instant offense, and the Clippers have lost two-straight because they couldn't find a way to score.

Everyone's on their feet, and that's just for pregame warmups. The Clippers stand back to allow Blake Griffin to practice a monster dunk, the noise in the place rising.

A few minutes later, Griffin attempts the same dunk and Dwight Howard tries to behead him. He stops the dunk, but Griffin makes both free throws and the intensity in Staples hits a crescendo.

Hard to imagine it getting louder until Chris Paul tosses a lob to DeAndre Jordan who uses one hand to slam it down, a few seconds later Paul steals the ball and sets Griffin up for another blast.

Wow doesn't quite cover it when Kobe steals the ball and slams over Paul. L.A. sports fans, out on the town for a Friday night, have already won no matter how this goes.

This isn't the same lackluster Clippers team I saw play Denver and Golden State, Paul going on the offensive early and driving the Clippers to a seven-point lead after the first quarter.