Kobe Bryant has played for the Los Angeles Lakers his entire NBA career.
Kobe Bryant has played for the Los Angeles Lakers his entire NBA career. Reuters

Ever since the Clippers moved to L.A. in 1984, the Los Angeles Lakers have ruled the city. In almost 30 years, the Lakers have won eight NBA titles, with the Clippers failing to even make a conference finals appearance.

In the 2012-2013 season, however, the Clippers could finally become the best team in Los Angeles for the foreseeable future.

Through almost half the year, the Clippers have outplayed the Lakers like they never have before. They have a nine-game lead over the Lakers in the Pacific Division and are tied for the best record in the Western Conference. At 15-16, the Lakers don’t even qualify for the playoffs.

For the second time this season, the two teams will do battle on the court. The Clippers are technically the home team, even though both clubs play their home games at Staples Center. Tip-off is scheduled for 10:30 p.m. ET. You can watch a free live stream online at espn3.com.

The Clippers won the first meeting 105-95, despite Kobe Bryant’s 40 points on 14-of-23 shooting. Point guard play may have been the biggest difference in the matchup. Chris Paul scored 18 points and dished out 15 assists, while Steve Blake scored just eight points with two assists for the Lakers.

It was the first of 24 games that Steve Nash would miss with a fractured left leg. On Friday night, Nash will make the start for the purple and gold. He’s registered at least 10 assists in three of his last four games.

Both teams are coming off losses. The Lakers fell to the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday night, while the Clippers have been blown out in two straight games. Prior to defeats to the Denver Nuggets and Golden State Warriors, the Clippers had won 17 consecutive games.

Dwight Howard was once considered by many to be the best dunker in the game, but has probably been surpassed by Blake Griffin. Howard hasn’t looked completely healthy, following back surgery in April.

According to the betting line at most Las Vegas casinos, the Clippers are expected to remain undefeated against the Lakers this season. The point spread has them as 4.5-point favorites.

Prediction: The Lakers have looked old and slow this season, and will have trouble keeping up with the young and athletic Clippers. Chris Paul should have success against the Lakers weak perimeter defense, and should help his steam start up another winning streak.

Predicted Score: L.A. Clippers 102, L.A. Lakers 89