The Los Angeles Clippers began the Steve Ballmer era with a nervy win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday, and now Chris Paul and co. will look to continue that winning momentum when they host their neighbours the Los Angeles Lakers at the Staples Center on Friday.
While the Lakers have made a 0-2 start to their NBA season, the Clippers will know they have to play a lot better than they did against OKC if they are to push for that place in the Western Conference finals and from there the NBA finals.
Of course, it is way, way too early to make any judgements on the pattern of play, with Chris Paul and Blake Griffin coming to the fore against the Thunder with 22 and 23 points respectively, while the rest of the support cast struggled.
The LA Clippers were expected to ease past the Thunder, considering Oklahoma, who stopped the Clippers in the Western Conference semifinals last season, do not have their top scorer Kevin Durant at the moment, while second highest scorer Russell Westbrook was forced off the court with a broken hand midway through the second quarter.
"It was pretty ugly," LA Clippers coach Doc Rivers said after the 93-90 victory. "We have 81 more [regular season] games to fix it.
"What I was proud of is that they kept fighting defensively. I don't know that we win this game last year."
As unimpressive as the Clippers were against OKC, they will still expect to comfortably top the Lakers, who have suffered two heavy defeats in their opening two games. Even with the return of a healthy Kobe Bryant, the LA Lakers have struggled for any kind of rhythm, with the Houston Rockets, on opening night, and the Phoenix Suns, a day later, routing them 108-90 and 119-99 respectively.
Bryant, though, showed he is on his way to being back to his best with 31 points against the Suns, and the Lakers veteran knows patience is key if they are to make anything of this season, after a nightmare campaign last time around.
"We're not as bad as these two games," Bryant was quoted as saying by ESPN. "We're not.
"The frustration comes from getting blown out twice. The clutching and grabbing and stuff, I think [coach] Byron [Scott] is trying to lobby to get me some more calls. That stuff never bothered me. I do quite a bit of it myself."
Bryant feels it is up to point guard Jeremy Lin, who has only made 13 points and seven assists in the first two games, to take up a bit more responsibility and "run the offence."
"I talked to him on the bench a little bit," Bryant said. "I said, 'You've got to run the offense. Like, I'm telling you to run the offense. You've got to do it.'"
"These guys are young, man. It takes a little time to understand that -- that teams become really great by challenging each other.
"I want it to be [Lin's] role to orchestrate the offense, call the right things, get guys in the right spots. It's going to take a little getting used to for him, because it's different in the past. But that's what I want from him."
Where to Watch Live
The game is set for a 10.30 pm ET (8 am IST, 2.30 am GMT (Saturday) start, with live coverage in the USA on ESPN. Viewers can also catch all the action via live streaming online on Watch ESPN.
Sony Six will provide the live coverage in India, while BT Sport will show the game live on TV in the UK. Audience in the UK can also live stream the action on Watch BT Sport or with the BT Sport Online app.
International viewers, including India, can watch all the action by live streaming on NBA Online.