Published November 02, 2012
| Sports Network
The first battle for Los Angeles takes place tonight as the Clippers technically visit the Lakers in the home of both teams, the Staples Center.
When the Lakers traded for Dwight Howard and acquired Steve Nash in a sign- and-trade this past offseason, they probably didn't anticipate going 0-2 to start this season.
But that's where the Lakers are after a Tuesday night loss to the Dallas Mavericks, followed by a 10-point setback to the Portland Trail Blazers.
To make matters worse, it's only two games into the season and Nash is already doubtful for tonight's game against the Clippers.
He exited the game with a left leg injury in the third quarter against the Blazers and did not return. Nash initially departed near the end of the first half after colliding with Damian Lillard. He limped off the court and was helped to the locker room. Nash returned after the break before leaving again 1:16 into the third with the injury.
Steve Blake is expected to start in Nash's absence.
With massive title aspirations, the Lakers have disappointed, but it's two games into an 82-game marathon and Kobe Bryant is already tired of hearing panic.
"I've won so I can (tell people to shut up)," Bryant said after practice on Thursday. "For Mike (Brown) it might be a little tough to say that so I'll say it for him: 'Everybody shut up. Let us work. At the end of the day, you'll be happy with the result as you normally are.' "
Testiness aside, the Lakes have scored some points. Bryant and Howard are both averaging 26 a game and Pau Gasol is at 19.5 PPG. The bench is only averaging 17 PPG.
The Lakers' woes dominate Los Angeles headlines, but the Clippers looked good Wednesday night in a 101-92 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies. It was a rematch of last season's first round of the Western Conference playoffs, which the Clippers took in seven.
Chris Paul was his awesome self in the season opener with 12 points and 12 assists, but Blake Griffin only scored 11 points. It was newcomer Jamal Crawford off the bench who really sparked the Clippers' victory with 29 points on 10-for-14 shooting.
"I may be a little biased, but I think we're the best bench in the NBA," said Crawford, who had the top bench scoring debut in Clippers' history.
The Clippers clamped down defensively against Memphis and held it to 38.4 percent shooting. Down four to start the fourth quarter, the Clippers outscored the Grizzlies, 28-15, in the final 12 minutes and held the Grizz to 27.8 percent shooting.
The Lakers have won 15 of the last 19 against their Staples Center colleagues, including two of three last season.