There's plenty of animosity between the NBA's two Los Angeles teams, but it would hardly be fair to call the Lakers and Clippers rivals. After all, one team has 17 championships and the other has none. The Lakers and Clippers have never faced off in a postseason series, and they've only even made the postseason in the same year eight times. For most of basketball history, the Lakers have contended while the Clippers have tanked, and the moment the Clippers were ready to join them on top of the mountain, the Lakers tumbled back down to Earth.
The summer of 2019 was supposed to finally give us the fabled streetlights vs. spotlights rivalry. Kawhi Leonard and Paul George spurned the Lakers for the Clippers. The little brother was the championship favorite... and then blew a 3-1 lead to a Nuggets team that the Lakers beat on their way to the 2020 title. Injuries depleted the two teams from there. For all of the opening night and Christmas showdowns, the Lakers and Clippers have still never really managed to play a truly meaningful game with significant stakes for both sides.
Well, that's about to change. The Lakers have never led the Clippers in the standings this season, nor have they been tied since opening night. In fact, the Clippers have led the Lakers by as many as 6.5 games this season, but fortune has slowly shifted in favor of the purple and gold ever since. The Lakers got healthy. The Clippers caught the injury bug. The Lakers dumped Russell Westbrook and soared. The Clippers signed Russell Westbrook and saw firsthand why the Lakers were so eager to move him in the first place. On Friday, the Lakers defeated the Minnesota Timberwolves for their 14th win in their past 21 games. The Clippers lost to the Memphis Grizzlies for their 10th loss in the same time frame.