It's become automatic. The Clippers play the Golden State Warriors and the Clippers lose — nine times in a row, counting a 133-120 defeat Thursday night at Staples Center.
The road to the NBA Finals goes through the Bay Area and the NBA Finals haven't felt this remote in some time.
Kevin Durant soared over them, Steph Curry danced around them, and it was obvious the Clippers were missing something. Or, rather, someone.
They were missing Carmelo Anthony.
Maybe a trade-deadline acquisition of Anthony is stuff of fantasy, but we're a city of dreamers, so why not dream?
This would be a win-win-win for everyone involved — for the Clippers, for the New York Knicks and for Anthony.
The game Thursday illustrated why.
The Warriors scored 65 points in the first half. They had 104 at the end of the third quarter. And they aren't the only team in the Western Conference that can score. The NBA's second-highest scoring team behind the Warriors? The Houston Rockets.
There's an offensive arms race in the conference and the Clippers are a weapon short, even when the sidelined Chris Paul returns.
That could be Anthony. That should be Anthony.
Anthony still can't defend and he isn't as mobile as he used to be, but he's still Carmelo Anthony.
He can score.
This is really a no-brainer from the Clippers' perspective, especially if he can be acquired without including Paul, Blake Griffin or DeAndre Jordan in the trade, as Broderick Turner of The Times has reported the team has insisted upon in talks with the Knicks.
This town is experiencing Clippers fatigue. To the credit of the franchise, the days of being a national joke have become distant memories. The flip side of that is the team will no longer be praised for being competitive.
The Clippers are a top-four team in the West and played the best team in the league Thursday night, but the most significant sports story in Los Angeles was about how the awful Lakers hoped to become slightly less awful by hiring Magic Johnson to be their unofficial mascot.
By landing Anthony, the Clippers would have the most prominent sports figure in a star-driven market. Anthony is perfect for Los Angeles. He's a scorer, he's polarizing, and he's married to a television personality.
Anthony would also improve how the Clippers are positioned for the upcoming summer, when Paul and Griffin are expected to become free agents. The presence of a scorer such as Anthony would figure to only improve their chances of retaining Paul, who is 31 and running out of time to win a championship.
If the worst-case scenario unfolds and Paul and Griffin depart over the summer, guess what? The Clippers would still have Anthony and Jordan, which looks considerably better on paper than Jordan, Austin Rivers and Jamal Crawford.
The Knicks win, too, simply by unloading Anthony's contract. Anthony's run with the Knicks is over. Every indication is that his relationship with Knicks President Phil Jackson has become untenable. The franchise's Hail Mary attempt to salvage the Anthony Project failed, its off-season trade for Derrick Rose is ending as almost everyone expected it would. The time has come for the Knicks to start rebuilding around Kristaps Porzingis.
But the Knicks have reason to not rush into anything and they might be able to receive a heftier bounty for Anthony if they deal him in the summer.
The other obstacle is the no-trade provision in Anthony's contract.
Anthony has control of his future. He can decide to stay in New York. He can decide he would rather move after the season.
Only he should be mindful of how the clock is ticking. He will be 33 before the next NBA champion is crowned. He is in his 14th season and has won only three playoff series.
The Clippers would be the best team for which he has ever played. They would represent his best chance of winning a championship. They would offer him the opportunity to reconstruct the narrative of his career, which is that he is a scorer who can't win.
What's not to like?