T.J. SIMERS

It would be a date with destiny for L.A. Lakers and Clippers

A city as great as Los Angeles needs to see its two basketball teams meeting up in a first-round playoff series. Guys, you can do this.

Sure, the criticism hurts.

But I do it for the good people of Los Angeles and make no apologies to those living in the hinterlands who don't understand.

As you know so well from experience, I'm only here to praise our local teams and support them the best way I can.

I think you would agree no one has spent more time pumping up the Choking Dogs over the years than I have.

I have found nice things to write about Jim Buss, which is darn near impossible. I don't see anyone else trying it.

I've got Dwight Howard hugging me, Chris Paul inviting me to his home and Jim Mora making eyes at me, or at the very least rolling them.

Now I know that makes me a homer in the eyes of folks sentenced to live elsewhere. But I'm just going to come out and write it: I'm openly rooting for a first-round playoff series between the Lakers and Clippers.

As I write this, Memphis is playing the Clippers.

And I'm reminded how much Memphis smells, and how pathetic their fans come across.

Oakland and Houston, meanwhile, are dumps.

And have you ever contemplated wasting what time you might have left in life in Oklahoma City? Or wanted to watch the garbage float by while eating beside the River Walk in San Antonio?

Now you know why I was pulling so hard for the Lakers not to gag in Atlanta, and I say that while rooting for them.

Who wants our guys going to some outpost for the playoffs where everyone wears the same T-shirt like they are still attending a high school pep rally?

I believe the Lakers can go 14-3 down the stretch, or even better, and become the sixth-seeded team.

Make that 12-4 now after they blew it against Atlanta, and I only say that in a loving way.

I haven't been able to verify it yet, but I'm told Pope Francis' first tweet was to ask how Kobe was doing.

Amen. I'm thinking the same thing, already figuring he won't play against Indiana, but that would be a loss anyway.

The next few games after Indiana are gimmies for the Lakers with or without Kobe, and I have the Lakers going on an eight-game winning streak.

I worry more about the Clippers.

And who would have thought the Clippers would be more of a concern than a Lakers team playing without Kobe and Pau Gasol?

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