Extra Pass: Lakers, Clippers gear up for all-important clash

Published April 5, 2023, 5:00 PMPolo Bustamante

Catch the Lakers as they try to extend their winning run against the Clippers live at 10:00 AM on NBA TV Philippines or via livestream on NBA League Pass.

What’s up with the LA Lakers?

Slowly but surely the Lakers are rising up the West standings. They’re on a four-game winning streak and have won seven of their last eight games. They’re sitting at seventh in the West with a 41-38 record, the exact same record as their next opponents, the LA Clippers.

While they won their last game against the Utah Jazz, the Lakers needed an extra period to put their opponents away. That tough battle against the Jazz resulted in Anthony Davis playing 42 minutes, LeBron James playing 38 minutes, and several other rotation players logging heavy playing time. To make matters worse, this is the first game of a back-to-back, meaning the Lakers will have to fly out and head back to LA to face the Clippers.

With James fresh from an injury and Davis’ health still being managed, there could be a possibility that one or both of the Lakers’ superstars will be held out of this all-important game.

That doesn’t mean that the Lakers don’t have enough talent on the roster. Austin Reaves has proven to be a prolific player for the Lakers as of late. Against the Jazz, he scored 28 points and dished out eight assists. He hit a big shot in OT that put the Lakers in position to win the game. Rui Hachimura, Jarred Vanderbilt, and Malik Beasley have all had solid stretches during this run by the team. D’Angelo Russell could also make a return against the Clippers, further boosting the Lakers’ chances.

In the end though, the Lakers are still miles better when James, Davis, or better yet, both play. With an outright playoff spot on the line, the Lakers have to shake off the fatigue and find a way to win this rivalry game.

What’s up with the LA Clippers?

Paul George is still out for the Clippers with a leg injury. That’s a massive hole that the team is still figuring out how to fill.

In their last game, Kawhi Leonard and Russell Westbrook tried their best to fill that hole. Against the New Orleans Pelicans. Leonard – another player whose minutes are managed – played more than 41 minutes and scored 40 points to lead the Clippers. Westbrook backed him up with 24 points and 10 assists. Even with those monstrous numbers from the two, that still wasn’t enough to overcome the Pelicans. 

It’s obvious that the Clippers need George and his production. They’re 3-3 since George went down. More than the offense, it’s the all-around play of PG13 that the team misses. He’s not only one of the team’s leading scorers, at times he’s the de facto playmaker as well. He’s also one of the team’s best defenders. 

They could have used George against the Pelicans. He could have relieved Westbrook from some of his playmaking duties, adding to the team’s 25 assists. He could have also helped Leonard out in limiting Brandon Ingram who dropped 36 points on them.

The good thing about this next match-up that the Clippers have is that they’re well-rested and facing a banged up Lakers team. The Clippers last played three days ago. That not only gives them enough time to heal up, but also to prepare a solid game plan against one of the hottest teams in the league.

Storyline to watch out for

Lost in the seeding battle between both teams is the fact that this is Russell Westbrook’s first game against the Lakers since he got traded at the deadline.

Westbrook has been playing well as of late. Before his 24-10 against the Pelicans, he erupted for 36 points and 10 assists in a win against the Memphis Grizzlies. Of course sandwiched between those two games is a four-point clunker against the same Grizzlies team. As always, the question is, “Which Russ will show up for the Clippers?” Even a fired-up Westbrook doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a good thing. 

Can he be the Clippers’ new Laker-killer or will he help his old team get a win with questionable plays for his new team?


Three days. That’s a long time to have between games. That’s the Clippers’ biggest advantage heading into this match-up against the Lakers. If they can get a fast start and build a big lead early, expect the Lakers to wave the white flag and fight another day.