The Clippers just can't let go of the loss on Oct. 29 to the Lakers, using that season-opening defeat as fuel to wreak havoc whenever they play them. The Lakers remember the embarrassment of their last historical defeat to the Clippers, not wanting to feel that kind of pain again.
So when the Clippers and Lakers encountered each other Sunday at Staples Center, both teams were on a course to see where this game would take them.
The Clippers took what has become their normal path this season, blowing out the Lakers, 120-97, in their home game.
Since that first defeat, the Clippers won the last three games against the Lakers by an average of 35.7 points.
"That team there has been facing injuries all season long," Chris Paul, who had 23 points, said about the Lakers. "They still play hard. They beat us the first game and we just won the other ones."
The Clippers won the season series for the second consecutive year, but it was just the third time they won it since they moved to Los Angeles for the 1984-85 season.
"They're extremely talented," Lakers Coach Mike D'Antoni said about the Clippers. "They're playing a lot better than we are, obviously."
Clippers forward Blake Griffin flexed his left knee after getting fouled in the third quarter, but kept playing.
He finished with 23 points, seven rebounds and five assists in 30 minutes 47 seconds.
"I'm good," Griffin said. "Little bumps and bruises, which you expect this time of the year."
J.J. Redick started after coming off the bench in his first game back Thursday night following a 25-game absence with a bulging disk in his lower back. He had 15 points on seven-for-11 shooting against the Lakers.
"I feel better physically," Redick said. "Mentally, I felt a little sharper tonight, too."
Already down to just nine healthy players when the game started, the Lakers became even more short-handed when Kent Bazemore went to the locker room with a sprained right foot in the second quarter.
That left it up to Jordan Hill (22 points, nine rebounds) and Nick Young (18 points) to try and fend off the Clippers.
The Lakers showed some resistance — until the third quarter.
That's when the Clippers took control, opening a 23-point lead.
"They're loaded with players," Young said about the Clippers. "It's going to be interesting to see what they do in the playoffs."
The Lakers defeated the Clippers by 13 points in that first game.
But the Clippers gave the Lakers a big-time payback in the second game, dragging them through a 36-point defeat. And that was nothing compared to the 48-point whipping the Clippers put on the Lakers in the third game they played.
It was the largest margin of victory in Clippers franchise history and the largest margin of defeat in Lakers franchise history.
The Clippers improved to 55-23, putting them on pace to establish the franchise's best record, set last season at 56-26.
The Lakers dropped to 25-52, matching the L.A. record for losses in a season set in 1974-75 when the team went 30-52.
"It is a special game, obviously with them being right down the hallway," Griffin said. "But it doesn't really mean much for us."
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