They’ve shared the same city since 1984 and the same arena since 1999, but the degree to which the Lakers and Clippers have become inextricably linked reached a new stage in the summer of 2019.
The Clippers held practices at an El Segundo high school less than a half mile from the Lakers’ facility as their Playa Vista practice facility underwent renovations. Clippers executives took shelter inside their temporary office space about a mile further south during an earthquake late on July 5 — then shook the rivalry a few hours later by trading for Paul George and acquiring Kawhi Leonard, the free agent both teams had courted and waited on in the preceding days.
Their orbits could become closer than ever in just two weeks, if the looming prospect of the Staples Center’s first postseason series between co-tenants becomes a reality. And yet, not since both teams assembled star-studded rosters two years ago, has one of their regular-season meetings featured such a disparity between them as Thursday’s Clippers victory of 118-94.
Paul George tallied 24 points in 31 minutes, and the Clippers outscored the Lakers by 26 points.
Kyle Kuzma led the Lakers with 25 points.
“I thought our intensity was excellent right from the start,” George said. “We were in offensive mode. We got into the paint, made extra plays, and I believed we were all locked in on the game plan defensively.”
From just before tipoff, foreboding signs blinked. Without LeBron James — who will also miss Friday’s game against Portland due to a right ankle injury — Dennis Schroder and Talen Horton-Tucker, the Lakers played without three of their primary ballhandlers.
Coach Frank Vogel could only laugh when asked who would play emergency point guard in the absence of Alex Caruso prior to tipoff.