Alexander: How far are we from a real Lakers-Clippers Hallway Series?

first_imgIs there a smidgen of extra significance attached to these Lakers-Clippers games from those who play or coach?“Not for us right now,” Lakers coach Luke Walton said, which makes sense. His team has its own issues, both short-term (injuries) and long-term (the sometimes precarious balance between development and winning, which tipped in favor of the latter the moment LeBron James arrived).It’s safe to assume the Clippers feel differently, not just in their dressing room but organization-wide. When you’re No. 2, it means more.“I see Luke every once in a while but I don’t think for us it’s that big of a deal,” Rivers said. “But for the players, I think it’s a big deal. It really is. It should be. It always has been. … It’s just because you’re so close and you see each other (around town). That makes it different.”They play each other three more times this season. And if we’re lucky, there will be a best-of-seven tacked on at the [email protected]@Jim_Alexander on Twitter Clippers still without Montrezl Harrell, who is in a 7-day quarantine AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with PackersThat’s to be expected in a town where the Lakers have consistently dominated the conversation through the years – even when they haven’t been as good as the Clippers, as has been the case each of the last five seasons.Sign up for Home Turf and get exclusive stories every SoCal sports fan must read, sent daily. Subscribe here.“The Lakers have all the history on their side,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said early Friday evening.That particular statement was meant to contrast the Lakers-Clippers rivalry with the Knicks-Nets relationship, which Rivers participated in as a Knick in the early ’90s when the Nets represented New Jersey rather than Brooklyn. The Lakers have a lot of history, the Knicks have some, and the Clippers and Nets are still working on it.But Rivers’ words also could have referred to the one significant difference between a Lakers home game and a Clippers home game in this series. One of the first things he did after being hired was to commission huge Clippers-themed decorations to cover up the Lakers’ championship banners.Friday night was a Lakers home game. So Doc had to see those gold banners, including the talisman from the Lakers’ seven-game victory over Rivers’ Celtics in 2010. LOS ANGELES — For what it’s worth, if the NBA regular season had ended Thursday night, we would be looking at a first-round Hallway Series matchup. Lakers vs. Clippers, 4 seed vs. 5 seed.(And, given the events of the previous two nights, there is a Sacramento Kings one-liner in there somewhere. I will leave it to you, dear reader, to find it.)Instead of Game 1 of a best-of-seven, however, we had game 36 (for the Lakers) and game 35 (for the Clippers) on Friday night at Staples Center, matching the teams whose dressing rooms are separated by, oh, maybe 30 steps of Staples Center hallway.It came, of course, with breathless “playoff preview” suggestions in some quarters. That might be because enough people would love to see it happen to make those words instant clickbait, though I suspect more of the people who salivate over a potential head-to-head matchup in April or May wear red and blue gear rather than purple and gold. Boy, that seems so long ago.In the 35 seasons that the Lakers and Clippers have shared an area code, they have appeared in the same postseason six times. That’s in keeping with the normal trend in SoCal, the Noah’s Ark of professional sports, where when one team in a sport is good in a given year, the other generally isn’t.The Kings and Ducks have met once in a postseason series. Ditto the Galaxy and the defunct Chivas USA in Major League Soccer (and if the Galaxy and LAFC ever meet in the postseason, they might have to call out the National Guard). And, of course, we are still waiting for that Dodgers-Angels Freeway World Series.The Lakers-Clippers rivalry nearly came to a postseason boiling point in 2006, the closest the teams have ever come to a playoff matchup. The Clippers, coached by Mike Dunleavy and featuring Elton Brand and Sam Cassell, polished off Denver in five in the first round. And the Lakers, the seventh seed in the West, broke to a 3-1 series lead over No. 2 Phoenix and needed just one more win to set up that Hallway Series.But that was the series when the Suns’ Raja Bell set up rent-free residence in Kobe Bryant’s head. The Suns swept the last three games to knock out the Lakers and then needed seven to subdue the Clippers.Could those Clippers have won a conference semifinal from those Lakers? We’ll never know, but I would have liked their chances.Related Articles Clippers rookies key overtime victory over Oklahoma City center_img Trail Blazers, Grizzlies advance to NBA play-in game; Suns, Spurs see playoff dreams dashed Clippers’ rhythm is missing but their spirits strong before playoff opener How athletes protesting the national anthem has evolved over 17 years Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img

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