By Dennis Berry
While NBA fans have been trying to figure out what is wrong with the Los Angeles Lakers, they might be missing the start of a new rivalry. Before the start of the 2012-13 season we looked at the best rivalries this year.
We talked about the Spurs-Thunder, Celtics-Heat, Nets-Knicks, and Lakers-Clippers. None of those have really lived up to the hype that we gave them before games were actually played. The Nets and Knicks are battling for New York, with the Knicks currently up 2-1 in the season series. So far, the Clippers have owned the Lakers. The Celtics-Heat have only played once this season and that was way back on opening night. The Spurs and Thunder are even so far this season.
Last week we may have witnessed the start of a new NBA rivalry. It was one that we did not see coming at the start of the season, but it may be one that will be around for a while. The genesis of the rivalry could be traced back to a bad three point shot.
The errant three point shot by Blake Griffin in the above link was bad. The Warrior's bench showed their reaction by jumping up and laughed at Griffin’s attempt. The Warriors would go on to win that game 115-94. Golden State improved to 22-10 with that win.
The story, however, would change a few days later in Los Angeles.
The Clippers were coming off a 107-102 win over the LA Lakers. This time the Clippers would be ready. They would jump out to a 23-6 lead early in the first quarter and not look back. The Clippers would lead by 24 points at halftime and 37 after three quarters.
It was in that third quarter that the Clippers made sure the Warriors would not have the fun that they did a few nights earlier. They had their way with the Warriors and had fun doing it. At one point, Chris Paul threw a lob off the backboard on a fast break to a trailing DeAndre Jordan.
Finally, after another lob to Jordan and a stare from Warrior's coach, Mark Jackson, Clipper's coach Vinny Del Negro called off the dogs. The Clippers had proven their point and if they had not, something could have happened.
You can almost bet that something will happen in the future between these two teams. Sure, the Warriors had some fun at the expense of a bad Blake Griffin shot, but the Clippers made a point to them. They wanted to show Golden State and the rest of the league that they were not going to stand for it. Where the old Clippers would have let it slide, these Clippers will not stand for it.
This is great for the league. The Warriors are a young up-and-coming team. They are trying to show the league that they need to be taken seriously. What better way to do that than to put a beatdown on the best team in the league?
For the Clippers, they have to prove that they are the best team. They had a 17 game win streak and went undefeated in the month of December. They have the best and deepest roster and the leagues best point guard in Chris Paul. They are not going to let another team show them up and if one does, they are going to be looking for payback.
These two teams play again on January 21. That game will probably be as close to a playoff level intensity from both teams at the start as you will find in a regular season. If one team is able to jump out to a big lead and is having fun at the other's expense, don’t be surprised if the other team does something about it.