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Lakers vs. Clippers: Monday's exhibition could answer questions

December 19, 2011 |  1:23 pm

Are the Clippers better than the Lakers?

It's a question that seemed preposterous before the Clippers acquired Chris Paul, one of the best point guards in the NBA, to complement slam dunk machine Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, Caron Butler and Chauncey Billips.

While the Clippers upgraded it seems the Lakers faded.

The 16-time NBA champions lost sixth man of the year Lamar Odom and Shannon Brown without greatly replenishing their aging roster. And the team that remains in El Segundo seems a bit out of sorts -- Derek Fisher has spent more time in a suit than on the court during the offseason, Kobe Bryant is in the midst of a divorce, and Pau Gasol feels tentative about his place on the team after almost being dealt to Houston.

For the first time in history, there may be a rivalry brewing at Staples Center.

L.A.'s little brother franchise has hit the weight room while its longtime prized child has atrophied.

The teams will play an exhibition Monday at 7:30 p.m. at Staples Center. While exhibitions in the past have not been much more than glorified scrimmages, this one could be an exception.

The Lakers do not want the buzz surrounding the Clippers to grow any louder, while the Clippers want to finally prove their relevance.

Even though Monday's game has no meaning, it could have a lot of significance.

-- Melissa Rohlin

Left photo: Blake Griffin, left, and Chris Paul of the Clippers. Credit: Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times

Right photo: Pau Gasol, Kobe Bryant of the Lakers. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times