Lakers-Clippers Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated April 04, 2012
The Los Angeles Lakers may be atop the Pacific Division, but the Los Angeles Clippers are surging behind their longest winning streak in two decades. The Clippers look to draw closer to the Lakers by winning the season series for the first time in 19 years on Wednesday night. The Lakers (34-20) have won 11 of 15 and lead the division by 1 1/2 games over the Clippers (32-21). However, the Clippers are mounting a run at their much more heralded co-tenant, winning six in a row for their longest streak since March 18-31, 1992. They also put together an eight-game run that season from Nov. 30-Dec. 15, 1991. Getting closer to that mark will require winning the season series from the Lakers for the first time since 1992-93. The city rivals have split two meetings this season with each winning at home, including the Clippers' 102-94 victory on Jan. 14. The Clippers are eager to prove they belong among the Western Conference's elite after cruising to a 94-75 victory at Dallas on Monday. "A win like this shows that we're growing," guard Randy Foye said. "It means a lot to play this well and beat the champs." Foye is making a surprising impact on the Clippers, averaging 21.7 points the last three games after scoring a season-high 28 against the Mavericks. He hit a personal- and team-record eight 3-pointers while Blake Griffin and Chris Paul were held to 15 and eight points, respectively. "We got him in some rhythm," coach Vinny Del Negro said of Foye, who is averaging 10.1 points this season. "They went zone, they lost him a few times on that left wing. They load up so much on Chris (Paul) and Blake (Griffin)." Foye hasn't found the same success against the Lakers in 2011-12, making 4 of 20 from the field - 2 of 8 from beyond the arc - for 15 points. Griffin has been much better with 48 total points and 23 rebounds in the two matchups, while Paul scored 33 in the Jan. 14 win. The point guard didn't come close to being that effective Jan. 25, scoring four points on 2-of-8 shooting in a 96-91 loss. The Lakers would like to create some breathing room in their quest for a fifth straight division crown. They squandered a 17-point lead in Tuesday's 91-87 win over New Jersey before Kobe Bryant made a 3-pointer with 6.8 seconds left. Bryant scored five of his 24 points in the final 71 seconds. "We feel as a group that when we do get a double-digit lead, we tend to relax a little bit," coach Mike Brown said. "The other team, they're going to amp it up, take chances and be more physical. Next thing you know, it's a three-point game." Bryant, the league leader with 28.0 points per game, has totaled 66 points in two season meetings with the Clippers, including 42 on Jan. 14. The All-Star guard is averaging 31.5 points over the last four meetings when the Lakers are the visiting team at Staples Center. Bryant could get some scoring help if Andrew Bynum is available. The center didn't play against the Nets, and Brown would only say that the club had handled an internal matter. He refused to comment on a report the Lakers had fined Bynum for a series of minor disciplinary transgressions. Bynum, averaging 17.9 points and a team-best 11.9 rebounds, also sprained his left ankle early in Sunday's 120-112 win over Golden State.
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