The period after the All-Star break is often called "the dog days." Unfortunately for both local teams, they had theirs before the break and can't afford any more.
The Lakers started a surprising 23-11 but suffered key injuries while their favorable schedule evened out, and went into the break on a 7-13 swoon.
The Clippers had better hope the Corey Maggette situation is a distraction because otherwise, they must not care a lot. They hurtled into the break with six losses in seven games, including a how-low-can-you-go home loss to the Hawks.
Both are home this week, the Lakers for two games starting Wednesday with Portland, the Clippers for four, staring Tuesday with Phoenix.
The Lakers need early-season Lamar Odom back to recapture their magic. The Clippers can't worry about magic until they show they can start competing again.
-- MARK HEISLER