The fans at Staples Center are used to seeing good basketball, as the Los Angeles Lakers have been championship contenders for the vast majority of their time in the building. But in 2012 there is a different vibe in the venue, with two excellent teams. The latest NBA power rankings are out at ESPN, and the Los Angeles Clippers are rated sixth best team in the league, with the Lakers right behind at No. 7.
The Clippers lead the Pacific Division at 7-3, but their Monday win over New Jersey isn't reflected in these rankings, which were chosen after Sunday's games. The Clippers claimed bragging rights in the power rankings, in the Pacific Division, and in the building over the Lakers by beating them Saturday night in an exciting contest, a designated Clippers home contest.
The Lakers entered the week at 9-5, still in the thick of things in the upper half of the Western Conference. "Even as you wonder how much it's taking out of him or what it means long-term for the Lakers' offense, how can you not get caught up in Kobe's run of 40-point games?" asked Marc Stein. "It's the sixth time he's gone for 40 in four straight outings. Michael Jordan, by comparison, did that only twice."