Pivot Points: For One Night, the Clippers Step Out of Lakers' Shadow

Hadarii JonesSenior Writer IJanuary 7, 2010

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 05:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers and Baron Davis #1 of the Los Angeles Clippers fight for position to get a rebound on November 5, 2008 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

It's bad enough that the Los Angeles Clippers have to share a city with the Lakers, but to share the same building has to be torture beyond measure.

Imagine glancing up into the air of the Staples Center and seeing all that history in the form of retired jerseys and multiple championship banners and knowing none of it belongs to you.

Such is the plight of the Clippers, who have been forced to exist in the shadow of the Lakers and have been an unwilling participant in the various moments of glory achieved by the "real home team."

The Clippers had suffered nine straight defeats to the Lakers, a number that spanned more than two seasons, until their emphatic 102-91 victory on Wednesday night.

Forgive Baron Davis, Chris Kaman, and Rasual Butler for celebrating as if the Clippers had just clinched a playoff spot. This was the only victory against the Lakers any of them had ever experienced as Clippers, with the exception of Kaman.

Even though it was a tired Laker team in the second night of a back-to-back, they were beaten thoroughly and convincingly, and for some reason I don't feel as bad as I would opposite another opponent.

Everyone hates to lose, but dropping a game to the Clippers is like losing to your little brother. It only happens on occasion, and even though your competitive spirit always shines through, you can't help but feel a little good.

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The Clippers deserve credit because Davis was able to answer any surge created by Kobe Bryant, Kaman was the best center on the floor, and the strongest post player in the game was Craig Smith.

That's right, Smith a name Lamar Odom will surely remember after being repeatedly abused in the paint and on the glass, a stunning development in itself.

As a matter of fact, with an enthusiastic crowd in the background and the rhythm from the Staples Center filling the air, it would have been easy to mistake the people in attendance as a Laker crowd.

Except they all sported Clipper blue and red and the members of the crowd looked nothing like the star-studded ensembles that regularly frequent Laker games and pose on cue for the cameras.

One thing was the same and that was the cries of MVP for Bryant, but even that evaporated when it became clear that the Clippers would prevail on this night.

The Lakers can offer excuses for their flat and uninspired play, and some of them are valid such as the absence of Pau Gasol, and the effort involved with playing three games in four days, but that would diminish the Clippers' performance.

The "other" Los Angeles team deserves this one, if for no other reason than having to be called the "other" Los Angeles team, and having to coexist with one of the NBA's legendary franchises.

This win, coupled with an earlier one against the Boston Celtics, means the Clippers have defeated the two perceived NBA title favorites in the span of less than a month, which is definitely something to build on.

The Clippers have started the new year the right way and things look to get even better with the return of rookie Blake Griffin from an injury suffered before the season started.

For one night the Clippers were able to brush the ghosts of history aside and revel in a victory that belonged to them solely, at least until the re-match in a week or so. Stay tuned. 

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