Fireworks were expected Wednesday night at Staples Center, and fans were not disappointed. Though still early in the regular season, the Lakers' 96-91 win seemed more like a playoff battle with a total of six technical fouls being called between the two teams.
And though most of the players kept referring to it as just another game, it was anything but.
In reality, the game may have held more meaning for the struggling Lakers; the proud, iconic franchise that was named this week as the most valuable team in professional basketball by Forbes magazine, worth $900 million. That’s a lot of tacos.
You could literally see the fire in the Lakers’ eyes. They were not going to be intimidated by the young, upstart Clippers and their deep roster that includes Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, Chauncey Billups and Caron Butler.
The Clippers may be the younger, stronger team on the rise, while the Lakers are the older, slower club trying to hang on to its championship status.
With one second to play and the Lakers assured of victory, Pau Gasol leaned over to Paul, said something about the game and proceeded to pat the Clippers' point guard on his head. Though his intentions were not malicious, Gasol obviously stoked a fire that is sure to burn until the two teams meet again April 4.
For now, the Lakers can claim rights to the city. This is their town and the Clippers will have to do much more to prove they belong.
Those 16 championship banners adorning the rafters at Staples Center? All Lakers. No Clippers, not even a division title.
Take a look at five reasons why Kobe and the Lakers still own L.A., and why Chris Paul is Pau Gasol's little brother—at least for now.