Clippers beat Lakers in Battle of L.A.; Carmelo’s Denver farewell?

The last time the Clippers and Lakers saw each other, Kobe Bryant took a break from being the hero (albeit not on purpose) while Derek Fisher hit the game-winner to beat the buzzer and break the Clippers’ hearts. Yesterday afternoon, L.A.’s JV squad again gave the varsity its best shot, and this time the underdogs came away with a win. The craziest part? The Clips have reached a point where they don’t even have to play their best to beat the Lakers … Blake Griffin struggled with foul trouble and was barely a factor in the first half, yet the Clippers only trailed by a point at halftime. The Lakers took advantage in the paint — Andrew Bynum (18 points, 13 rebounds) feasted early in the second quarter during a five-minute span where he had three or four dunks — but couldn’t build any kind of cushion … Kobe (27 points, 9 rebounds) went on a run in the third quarter to put the Lakers up seven, including a couple of turnaround jumpers on Eric Gordon, a steal and two free throws, and a perfect lob to Bynum. The Clippers grabbed the lead in the fourth quarter thanks to Griffin (18 points, 15 rebounds) going to work in the post on Pau Gasol, then Gordon (30 pts) ripped Kobe and threw down a breakway dunk to put it away … After one of the Clips’ announcers punctuated Gordon’s dagger with a “SLAAAAAAM DUNK!!” call, he sarcastically asked, “Who’s got the momentum now?” Right then the cameras focused on Phil Jackson. The other announcer snapped, “Not him.” … With five seconds left it was all over except for some Randy Foye free throws. Griffin and Lamar Odom got tied up going for the rebound, and Odom grabbed Blake’s jersey and tried to fling him into the crowd. Blake decided not to make a big deal out of it, but then Baron Davis jumped in and pushed Odom. Then Ron Artest got in the middle of it — right in front of the baseline fans — as David Stern‘s heart went into his throat. The “brawl” didn’t turn ugly, but Baron, Griffin, Odom and Artest were all ejected … No heroics for D-Fish this time: He was 1-for-8 from the field, missed all four of his three-point tries, and surprisingly had some trouble keeping Baron (14 points, 8 assists) out of the lane … So the Clips have beaten the Spurs, Hornets, Heat, Thunder, Bulls and Lakers this year. Realistically, with this core group how long will it be before they’re a serious threat in the West? … If the announcers were correct and Shannon Brown really does have a 44.5-inch vertical, whose do you think is higher in the League? … During the broadcast they showed the results of a Sports Illustrated poll of NBA players asking for their championship pick. The poll was taken in December. The Lakers got 69 percent of the vote, while San Antonio got 1 percent …Read More>>

Didn’t we do this whole, “Carmelo stunk it up in what might have been his last game with the Nuggets” thing about one week ago? In the only other NBA game on Sunday’s schedule, the traveling tour of Nothin’ But ‘Melo Talk pulled into San Antonio and got spanked, 110-97 while ‘Melo shot 5-for-17 and finished with 12 points … Tony Parker (30 points) made Chauncey Billups and the rest of the Denver defense look really old, gliding past whoever whenever he wanted to. Parker (17.5 ppg, 6.9 apg) bouncing back this year from something of a subpar season is arguably the biggest reason the Spurs are off to this ridiculous start, yet he doesn’t seem to be getting any All-Star love. Do you think he belongs on the West roster? … The Nuggets just have the look of a team with no direction. They’re talented enough to beat anybody, but aren’t together mentally to mess with a team like San Antonio right now. Maybe it is time to just trade Carmelo and get on with it — at least then we could get three minutes into a Denver or New Jersey game without the trade rumors becoming the most popular topic … By the way, the Spurs are on pace for 70 wins. Just sayin’ … Wasn’t North Carolina supposed to be back this year? The Tar Heels fell from that preseason Top 10 ranking faster than Eamon fell off the R&B map, and last night they got blown out by Georgia Tech in a 20-piecing where UNC shot 27% from the field. Iman Shumpert dropped 30 points for G-Tech, while Glen Rice Jr. added 24 points … Big weekend in high school basketball, which started with Austin Rivers and Michael Gilchrist going head-to-head in a showcase for the two best players in the country, and continued through the Hoophall Classic going on in Springfield, Mass., through today. High School Hoop recaps some of the notable story lines, including the No. 1 team in the country suffering its first loss of the season. Duke-bound PG Quinn Cook, Washington-bound PG/SG Tony Wroten, and Ohio State signees LaQuinton Ross and Shannon Scott were among the standouts … We’re out like Brady and Belichick