It was only a preseason game, but the atmosphere was that of a playoff game. And in the end, the Chris Paul-led Los Angeles Clippers convinced me that they are a legitimate playoff contender.
The Los Angeles Lakers? They need more time to figure things out.
Chris Paul showed little rust and seemed very comfortable with his new teammates. Contrast that to what happened to the Lakers, who were without a dependable point guard and looked lost in a lot of stretches in their first preseason game of the season.
Without Derek Fisher, the team relied on Steve Blake and rookie Darius Morris. By now, we know that Blake is still at best a serviceable backup and Morris is the second coming of Jordan Farmar.
In any case, if you're a betting person, I think you'll agree with me when I say that the Lakers chances to win the championship have dipped a little bit and the Clippers' chances to be in the playoffs just jumped a whole lot. Some sites for online betting (TopBet.com, etc.) have already tabbed the Clippers to get home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
Talk about the difference Chris Paul makes.