- Dave McMenamin, ESPN.com
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EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- For the first time in years, the title of "Best NBA Team in Los Angeles" is up for grabs as the Los Angeles Clippers revamped their roster this training camp while the Los Angeles Lakers have been unable to shake up theirs.
Lakers forward Matt Barnes has seen the matchup from both sides of the tracks. As a rookie in 2003-04, he played for a Clippers team that went 28-54. Last year, his eighth season in the league, he joined the Lakers as a free agent and the team went 57-25.
Barnes said the Clippers should be feeling some positive vibes after adding Chris Paul, Chauncey Billups, Caron Butler and re-signing DeAndre Jordan this month, but thinks they may have gone overboard in showing that enthusiasm.
"They definitely have a much improved team here and are looking to make a push towards the playoffs," Barnes said Thursday after the Clippers beat the Lakers in a pair of preseason games on Monday and Wednesday. "They have a lot of reason to be excited, but all the celebration after dunks and all that kind of stuff, I mean, I just kind of think it looks amazing and it makes 'SportsCenter,' but I mean, let's just play basketball."
Count Barnes as one person not exactly thrilled by the "Lob City" Clippers.
"They act like they won the dunk contest after every dunk," Barnes said. "So, as players, people aren't going to tolerate that."
Barnes showed how much he appreciated the celebration when he picked up a flagrant 1 foul for pushing Blake Griffin to the floor with 6:48 remaining in the third quarter on Wednesday.
It was just one example of the overall chippy play between the two teams. Lakers forward Pau Gasol offered an explanation for all the hard fouls after the game.
"I think we were upset that they were flopping a little too much," said Gasol.
Barnes expanded upon Gasol's claim and pointed to the criticism and Griffin specifically.
"He's an amazing athlete and an amazing player but he does flop a lot," Barnes said. "You're too big and too strong to be doing that. Then he wants to talk.
"... He's a special athlete. Probably one of the best athletes I've ever seen, but all the flopping is unnecessary. That's the way he plays and it works too, they call it, so you can't be mad at him for it."
However, Barnes was mad, or at least annoyed, that his foul on Griffin was determined to be a flagrant by the referees.
"I looked at [the replay] and yeah, my arms did get extended but [Griffin] flailed everywhere like I threw him to half-court," Barnes said. "I just think the refs are so quick to judge. Even after looking at the replay, I heard initially they wanted to call a flagrant 2 and I'm just like, 'Are you kidding me?'
"I guess there's just no hard fouls anymore. It was just a hard foul."
Barnes, who was suspended for a game last year for escalating an on-court altercation after he pushed Dallas Mavericks assistant coach Terry Stotts to the ground when the coach tried to restrain him, said he was only assessed the flagrant foul on Wednesday because of his reputation.
"That's exactly what it was yesterday, my reputation," Barnes said. "I've fouled people much harder than that. That's all it is. ... I have a reputation for stuff I've done, so I've earned it, so I can't be mad at no one but myself, but that definitely wasn't a flagrant foul."
Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.
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