Los Angeles Lakers vs. Los Angeles Clippers Pick & Prediction JANUARY 7th 2024

Two months after they last met, the Los Angeles Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers will renew acquaintances Sunday in a clash of hallway neighbors that have been headed in opposite directions.

The Clippers will enter on a five-game winning streak after barreling through a two-game road swing with victories over the Phoenix Suns and New Orleans Pelicans. Sunday is technically a road game as well.

The 111-95 triumph over the Pelicans on Friday also was the Clippers’ 14th victory in their last 16 games as they continue to grow since the addition of James Harden.

The Clippers’ only two defeats since the start of December came when Kawhi Leonard was out during a four-game stretch with a hip injury. Since he has returned, the Clippers have won their last three.

Paul George scored 24 points Friday while making 6 of 10 shots from 3-point range while Leonard scored 19 points with nine rebounds. Harden had just eight points on 2-of-7 shooting with 13 assists.

Russell Westbrook has been somewhat lost in the shuffle as the fourth star in the Clippers’ mix, and while he had just eight points, he proved to be a difference maker Friday on defense. The Pelicans had the lowest point total for a Clippers opponent since Oct. 29.

“I thought Russ, when he came into the game with his defense and his pace, he really did a good job of changing the game late in the first quarter into the second quarter,” said Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue after his team outscored the Pelicans 30-15 in the second period. “I just think defensively is what really got us going.”

The Clippers held the Pelicans to 34.9-percent shooting in the first half and 35.9 percent for the game.

The Lakers will enter the second of four games against the Clippers this season coming off yet another defeat, this time 127-113 at home to the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday. The team continued to be without forward Rui Hachimura (calf) and guard D’Angelo Russell (tailbone).

LeBron James had 32 points and Anthony Davis had 31 at New Orleans, but the supporting cast failed to deliver outside of Austin Reaves’ 19 points.

The Lakers, who have lost four consecutive games and nine of their last 11, had an additionally rough week with a report surfacing that players have a growing disconnect with head coach Darvin Ham.

“We suck right now,” James said, keeping the issue simple.

Said Davis: “There’s no help coming. There’s no cavalry. We’ve got to do it with the guys we’ve got.”

Ham said he has the support of the Lakers’ front office. He reiterated that he has an open line of communication with James and Davis. Now he’s looking for some sensibility. And patience.

“You have to look at the totality of the picture,” Ham said. “I’m tired of people living and dying with every single game we play. It’s ludicrous, actually. It’s like, ‘Come on, man. This is a marathon.’ We hit a tough stretch. It’s the same team.”

The Lakers won the first meeting with the Clippers 130-125 in overtime on Nov. 1. The win ended an 11-game losing streak to the Clippers that dated back to July 2020 in the Orlando bubble.

The current season series between the teams is the last as co-tenants in their downtown Los Angeles arena. The Clippers are set to move into a new venue in nearby Inglewood next season.

–Field Level Media

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