Originally posted on Fox Sports West  |  Last updated 1/26/12
LOS ANGELES The Los Angeles Lakers may have won Round 2 in the Battle for LA, but the Clippers made it clear at the end of the game that they're not to be messed with. Their message to the Lakers: We're not your kids. We're not your little brothers. Most fans were already leaving Staples Center when Lakers forward Pau Gasol perhaps as a gesture of respect, perhaps out of friendship reached out to rub the top of Clippers guard Chris Paul's head after the final buzzer. But Paul considered it condescending and disrespectful. He pushed away Gasol's hand and jumped up to touch the top of the 7-footer's head. "You don't do that," Paul said as he sat in a corner of the Clippers dressing room. "He tried to touch the top of my head. I don't like that. I got a son of my own. I don't know if Pau's got kids, but don't touch my head like I'm one of your kids." Did someone say something about a rivalry? It appears we've got one now. The Clippers didn't need to be patted on the head. The loss was tough enough. They led virtually the entire way, then lost the game in the final minutes, 96-91. After two head-to-head games, each team has one victory with one to play, April 4. "Like we said, it's not a rivalry until they don't win all the time," Paul said. "They got us tonight, but we'll see them one more time." The Clippers can't wait. They struggled to make shots late in the game, failed to get big rebounds and gave up key baskets to Andrew Bynum, Kobe Bryant and Metta World Peace. "Down the stretch we just had a couple of key turnovers," Blake Griffin said. "But we led them most of the game. We let it slip out of our hands." Like the first meeting, this game had moments of rough play. Josh McRoberts of the Lakers and Reggie Evans of the Clippers exchanged elbows in the fourth quarter and were assessed technical fouls. When McRoberts threw another elbow at Evans moments later, he was given another technical and was quickly tossed from the game. Earlier, Griffin and World Peace jostled for a loose ball on the floor. When the whistle blew, players pushed each other and had to be separated. Clippers forward DeAndre Jordan stepped in to keep World Peace away. "It's always going to be chippy," Jordan said, "but I'm just out there trying to protect my teammates. We're a family, so we're not going to let anyone try to run over us or anything like that. "It's always going to be a chippy game, a gritty game. It's going to be physical and we're not going to shy away from it. We're going to step up to the challenge and compete." They did, but they finally gave in to a Lakers team that may have needed this game more than they did. The Lakers came in with a three-game losing streak and with questions about how they could get the ball inside to Gasol. Gasol got more touches (13) than his previous two games and finished with 23 points, one fewer than Kobe Bryant. "It wasn't like we were going to run more sets for me," Gasol said. "Just play hard and things will come. We do our job, they do their job, and at the end it all came together. We want it to continue to be that way." If there was any solace for the Clippers, it was that Paul said he felt fine after missing five games because of a strained left hamstring. He played 26 minutes and had 12 assists, but his shooting touch was rusty. He missed 2 of 8 shots and scored 4 points. "It was so great to get back out on the court," he said. "I just wish I could've helped our team my more than I did. I couldn't throw a rock in the ocean. It's tough, but we got to let this one go. "There's no moral victories over here. We'll use it as an opportunity to get better, but this is a team that feels like we should win. That's the mentality of our team. We're mad that we lost." And he was mad that Gasol had tried to pat him on the head. That's why he did the same to Gasol. "I'll treat him like a little kid," Paul said. When someone reminded him that Gasol had also tried to bump him as they walked off the court, Paul said, "It's all right. They beat us, so they can do whatever they want." This time, the Lakers did. Next time, the Clippers want to be the ones patting the Lakers on the head.
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