It's a stunning reversal of fortune if you pause and ponder.
The Clippers are fighting for home-court advantage in a first-round playoff series next month. The Lakers are merely playing for lottery position in the June draft.
Strange, strange days in L.A. as the two teams prepare to meet Thursday night.
The Lakers couldn't stop the New Orleans Pelicans from ripping through them for 132 points Tuesday in a loss that prevented them from matching a season-high three-game winning streak. And now they play the people that drilled them by 36 points two months ago in the worst loss the Lakers ever suffered to the Clippers.
Sure enough, the team with 16 NBA championships is drifting among the NBA's five worst teams in terms of record. And the city's current basketball darling has never made it past the Western Conference semifinals.
It would be easy for the Clippers to overlook the Lakers when they're atop the Pacific Division and fourth in the West while their counterparts have the conference's worst record (21-40).
They say that wouldn't happen.
That 20½-game lead the Clippers hold over the Lakers in the Pacific? Might as well be half a game, they say.
"That shows growth as a team, getting up for every game," Chris Paul said. "Every game for us has to be a big game — just like New Orleans, just like Phoenix.
"The Lakers, they beat Portland the other night, so I don't care what their record says, especially because we're playing in Staples Center. It's another road game for us. We've been bad on the road. We lost to them in the first game of the season so we'll be ready."
Indeed the Clippers are just 17-15 on the road and indeed it is a designated road game for them.
The last time the Lakers were the home team, they throttled the Clippers, 116-103, in a regular-season opener way back in October.
Since then, the Lakers have been on a journey to nowhere with Kobe Bryant playing only six games, Steve Nash only 10 and Pau Gasol playing mind games last week with Coach Mike D'Antoni.
Now they're considering another lineup change, possibly starting point guard Jordan Farmar in place of scoring-challenged Kendall Marshall.
D'Antoni wouldn't commit either way after starting Marshall against New Orleans but inserting Farmar at the beginning of the second half.
"[Farmar] could start. We'll talk about it," D'Antoni said. "Whether he starts or not ... whoever plays well is going to finish the game."
Marshall hasn't scored in four of the Lakers' last five games but has continued to distribute the ball well. Farmar had 20 points and eight assists in 26 minutes against New Orleans.
Meanwhile, the Clippers (42-20) are in a three-way fight with Houston and Portland for third place in the West. Two of those teams figure to get home-court edge in the first round next month. One of them won't.
The Clippers smacked the Lakers the last time they met, 123-87, but that season opener is still on their mind.
"The blasted us the first game so there is no reason to overlook them," Matt Barnes said Tuesday after the Clippers beat Phoenix, 104-96. "They've got a lot of hungry guys out there just like this [Phoenix] team that can shoot the ball and play hard."
Times correspondent Eric Pincus contributed to this report.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times