by Marcel Mutoni @marcel_mutoni

Another chapter in the uneasy co-existence between the Lakers and Clippers inside the Staples Center will be written tonight.

Even though there’s some bad blood developing, neither side wants to necessarily over-hype the second meeting this season between the two teams, largely out of fear of motivating the opponent, the media is more than happy to do it for them.

Players and coaches on the two teams were cornered by the local and national press and asked to determine if this is, indeed, a true rivalry. (Whatever that means these days.) The answers, as you might expect, varied.

From the LA Times and Daily News:

Pau Gasol said Tuesday the Clippers must be taken “very seriously.” He wasn’t joking. A month ago, there would have been a few chuckles. A year ago, people would have doubled over with laughter. Not any longer. The teams meet again Wednesday in a designated Lakers home game, with the Clippers atop the Pacific Division and the Lakers 10th in the Western Conference. It’s far too premature to call this a rivalry. Or is it? “I think it was always a rivalry but now that they have opportunities to win games against us, it’s, like, something else,” Lakers center Andrew Bynum said.There’s already a mini-rivalry between Griffin and Lakers forward Matt Barnes. Barnes said Griffin flopped too much after the Clippers beat the Lakers in an exhibition last month … Does Barnes’ comments give credence to a growing rivalry between the teams? “I’ve heard a lot of talk like that from [the Lakers] through other people,” Griffin said. “That’s what happens. We won the first game. I feel like that’s what happens when you kind of come out and you’re ready. So, we’ll let them do all that. I’m not worried about Matt Barnes and what he thinks about me flopping or not.”

“I look at it as it’s not a rivalry,” Mike Brown said. “Right now, they’re ahead of us in terms of what they want to be doing with their team on both ends of the floor and, so for us, we’re still searching. That’s the state of where we are right now. We’re a ways away from reaching our potential or being where we want to be at the end of the season. They’re more settled and focused on where they’re heading. If I were them, I would be thinking I would have an edge, too.”

Whether or not this is a true “rivalry” is a matter of semantics and personal opinion, and doesn’t matter all that much.

What does matter, however, is that hoops fans in the city of Los Angeles and around the world get to enjoy these increasingly heated battles between the two squads.