The 2019-20 season was significant for the LA Clippers and the LA Lakers as they lured three of the biggest superstars in the NBA. Kawhi Leonard and Paul George maneuvered their way to the Clippers while Anthony Davis joined the Lakers.
The Battle of LA was supposed to become a heated rivalry, except that it has not turned out the way many expected. The Clippers have not lost to the Lakers in nine straight regular-season games. They have not conceded a game to their Crypto.com Arena co-tenants since December 2020.
Following a pulsating win by the LA Clippers over the Charlotte Hornets, Skip Bayless promptly tweeted this:
“QUICK ASIDE: Kawhi, in his return at Charlotte, just hit the clutch game-winner, a long 2-point jumper, swished. Clippers are better than the Lakers when Kawhi and Paul George are healthy … which (I know) hasn’t been that often.”
The LA Lakers, behind LeBron James and Anthony Davis, won the NBA championship in 2020. It was AD’s first season in LA and arguably the last time he was healthy for almost an entire year. The purple and gold franchise are 81-41 when both James and Davis are available.
The LA Clippers, on the other hand, have been all about potential and promises. They’ve always been derailed by injuries to either Kawhi Leonard or Paul George, sometimes both at the same time. The farthest they’ve reached as a duo was in 2020-21 when they appeared in the Western Conference Finals.
When healthy, they’ve proven to be a tough matchup for anyone. The Clippers own a staggering 63-22 record when Leonard and George are available. They’ve also been quite adept in adjusting to life without their oft-injured superstars.
Without Kawhi Leonard for the entire 2021-22 season and Paul George playing just 31 games, the Clippers still owned a better record than the LA Lakers. Ty Lue’s team even had the chance to play in the play-in tournament but lost to the New Orleans Pelicans without Covid-stricken George.
If delivering a championship constitutes “better,” then the LA Lakers have already proven it. The Clippers have been great when George and Leonard can play. They better hope both can stay healthy for the rest of the season.
The LA Clippers and LA Lakers could be trending in the opposite direction
Several basketball analysts such as Charles Barkley and Kendrick Perkins picked the LA Clippers to win the championship this season. They’re currently sixth in the West despite getting only six games from Kawhi Leonard, including last night’s superb performance against the Charlotte Hornets.
Meanwhile, the LA Lakers were supposed to miss the playoffs yet again this season. Their recent surge in form, however, could see them push for a postseason spot. Anthony Davis is finally healthy while LeBron James has managed to keep Father Time at bay.
The Lakers, who had a 2-10 record last November 11, are now 8-2 in their last 10 games, hiking their win-loss slate to 10-12. And for the first time in two seasons, they seem like a legitimate playoff team.
The LA Clippers, meanwhile, are still desperately hoping they will have Kawhi Leonard and Paul George healthy. They’re an incredibly difficult team to beat when they’re both available, which has rarely been the case in four years.