At a recent event at Staples Center, Derek Fisher laughed off the notion that there is a rivalry between the 16-time NBA champions and the Clippers, who have never won a title.
"You can't win one more preseason game or one more regular season game through 15 games and call it a rivalry," Fisher said.
"There's too many of those up there," he added, while pointing to the Lakers championship banners hanging from the rafters at Staples Center.
That's not to say that there's not a rivalry between the players.
During the panel discussion, Lakers forward Matt Barnes called Clippers forward Blake Griffin a flopper.
"He's just an amazing athlete, can dunk, can do everything on the court -- he just flops and I don't understand; I don't get it," Barnes said.
Barnes was referring to an incident that occurred during a preseason game between the teams Dec. 21. Barnes, annoyed by Griffin's dunks and perceived showboating, shoved Griffin to the ground and was immediately dealt a flagrant foul. (See the video below.)
"It's a preseason game," Barnes said to reporters the day after the scuffle. "Yeah, they're catching lobs and dunking. But it's just a preseason game. Let's just play basketball. If you make a dunk, act like you've done it before. He's got hundreds of them. There's no need for the hurrah after every single dunk. It's unnecessary."
The bad blood intensified when the teams met Jan. 14 for their first regular season game. The Clippers and Lakers combined for five technical fouls -- four on the Lakers, one on the Clippers.
When asked if the Clippers are doing things verbally or physically to irritate the Lakers, Fisher didn't hesitate.
"Yeah," he said.
The Lakers and Clippers may not have a rivalry in terms of past history, but it seems as though the "R" word is slowly simmering and snaking around Staples Center, regardless of whether the players admit it, infusing the city of Los Angeles with potential for some great excitement when the teams meet again.
Clippers Coach Vinny Del Negro said he expects guard Mo Williams to play Wednesday evening against Dallas.
"I'm waiting to see how he warms up," Del Negro said.
Williams injured his right foot against against Portland last Tuesday. Without Williams and Chris Paul, who has a strained left hamstring, the Clippers suffered their worst loss of the season Tuesday, a 108-79 beating by Utah.
Del Negro said that Paul is "feeling better" but is still listed as day-to-day.
"He's doing all of his therapy, headed in the right direction," Del Negro said. "It's day-to-day for him right now. There's a process involved that the doctors and trainers have and we'll abide by that and see how he feels every day."
The Clippers are about to take the court against the defending NBA champions in their third game in three days.
Del Negro made it clear that fatigue was not an excuse for Tuesday's loss against the Jazz.
"Everyone says it's a back to back but we had plenty of rest, that was not the case," Del Negro said. "We just didn't come out with the right mentaility.
"We have to do a much better job learning how to win."
If Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard has added the Clippers to the list of teams he would be interested in being traded to as has been reported, that is news to both teams, according to several NBA executives not authorized to speak publicly on the situation.
The Internet report said Howard was intrigued by the Clippers after they acquired Chris Paul and Chauncey Billups to play alongside Blake Griffin.
According all the executives, the Clippers and Magic haven’t had any recent discussions about Howard being traded there and that the report wasn’t true.
Howard’s agent, Dan Fagen, had been given permission to speak with the Lakers, New Jersey Nets and Dallas Mavericks about his client.
The Magic know that the Clippers won’t trade Griffin for Howard and Orlando has no interest in Clippers center DeAndre Jordan, according to the executives.
Kobe Bryant has reached out to Howard recently, said two people not authorized to speak on the matter.
But Howard has also talked with Nets guard Deron Williams.
Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard, a five-time NBA All-Star, reportedly has added another team to his very short list of franchises for which he would like to play.
According to sheridanhoops.com, which cited an unnamed source, Howard is "intrigued" by the Clippers and has been watching "a lot" of their games.
Howard will become a free agent after this season. He is averaging 19.4 points and 14.8 rebounds a game this season for the Magic, which is off to an impressive 9-3 start.
If Howard came to the Clippers, he could join point guard Chris Paul and power forward Blake Griffin in a Big Three that would rival Miami's LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh as the league's best star trio.
The Clippers have won three games in a row, including victories last week over the Lakers and against Miami, which has been widely picked as the favorite to win the NBA championship.
Howard has also expressed interest in playing for the Lakers, New Jersey and Dallas.
Photo: Clippers point guard Chris Paul is treated for his hamstring injury in the fourth quarter of the game against the Lakers on Saturday night at Staples Center. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times
Otherwise, the Clippers felt good about how the week ended.
They lost to a tough Portland team in a tough place to play Tuesday night at the Rose Garden Tuesday
They returned home to play a back-to-back game against the Miami Heat Wednesday night and won that game.
They finished off the week with a stirring victory over the Lakers, breaking their five-game winning streak.
“I think instead of taking baby steps, we’re skipping a step,” said Chauncey Billups, who had 19 points on six-for-12 shooting against the Lakers. “And I think these two games –- even the Portland game, to be honest with you –- we got better. That’s all you can really ask for.”
Well, the Clippers could ask for better health.
Paul will be re-evaluated Sunday.
He had just made a 12-foot jumper for a 95-82 Clippers lead with 4:01 left when Paul grabbed his leg.
“I thought it was a cramp, but he let me know it wasn’t,” Paul said about Clippers trainer Jasen Powell. “It was something. I’ve never had it.”
Surrounded by reporters following a 102-94 victory against the Lakers, Clippers center DeAndre Jordan was asked if the scrappy, physical game had a playoff-like atmosphere.
"I've never been to the payoffs," Jordan said. "So I don't know what that will feel like."
The Clippers past shortcomings seemed hard to remember after Saturday's game, a showing in which Chris Paul had 33 points and six assists and Blake Griffin finished with 22 points and 14 rebounds to beat a streaking Lakers team that had won five in a row.
One of the keys to the game was rebounding.
The Clippers, who have the lowest rebounding average in the league (37), had a 50-42 rebounding advantage over the Lakers, who have the second-highest rebounding average (46).
"We definitely made strides in the right direction defensively and on the rebounding end of it but we've got to do it again," Paul said. "We've got to make it a habit and not just a one-time thing."
Though the Clippers had just beaten the 16-time champions and were still relishing in a victory just days earlier against the Miami Heat, a team projected to win the title, the players were quick to keep things in perspective.
"We're not going to get too high with these wins," Paul said. "And hopefully, if we lose, we're not going to get too low."
It's a smart attitude to maintain considering that whenever the Clippers realize any success, their critics are quick to delve into their previous failings.
"It's definitely going to take time to remove that label," Griffin said of his team's stigma.
"That's what people say after you beat them," Griffin added. "They're going to want to talk about the past. We're not talking about the past."