With the emergence of the Clippers as a serious playoff contender, there's no clear-cut king in Los Angeles anymore. Lets look at both the Clippers and the Lakers and decide which team really runs Los Angeles.

As it stands, these teams hold the third and fourth spots in the Western Conference standings

L.A. Lakers

Lakers vs. ClippersThe Lakers are a game-and-a-half up on the Clippers in the Pacific Division. The Phoenix Suns have made a mad dash in the second half of the season but it'll take quite the miracle to eclipse either L.A. teams for the top spot in the division. 

There's been plenty of trade speculation and rumors circulating continuously, yet the Lakers remain one of the most talented teams in the league and have all but locked up a high seed for the postseason. 

They've managed to keep their three main guys healthy, Bynum's small ankle sprain aside, which has helped significantly. Kobe continues to light up the scoreboard as if he were 10 years younger, Andrew Bynum is having a career year and Pau Gasol has stepped it up in a big way since the trade deadline ended.

Speaking of the deadline, the pickup of Ramon Sessions has turned out to be a beautiful piece of business for Mike Brown and the Lakers. He's already locked up the starting point guard spot and has dished out at least nine assists in three straight games.

The Lakers may be winning games at their usual pace, but in terms of spread NBA betting they've been a miserable team to back with your sports picks. They're on a dreadful 1-10 ATS run and are third from bottom with a 22-32 ATS record.

L.A. Clippers 

No doubt it's been a rollercoaster of a season for the suddenly relevant Clippers. 

They're fourth in the West right now but four other teams are within three games in the standings. Here lately though, the Clippers have been outstanding, winning six straight matchups ahead of tonight's showdown with their city counterparts. 

The season started off strong for this CP3-led team and all was well, that is until Chauncey Billups went down with an Achilles' injury and was lost for the season. The Clippers had to adjust quickly, inserting Randy Foye into the starting lineup and then grabbing Nick Young at the deadline to shore up the two. 

The Clippers have been solid at Staples Center, but their form away from home has been far from special. They're just 12-13 both SU and ATS on the road so far this season, yet that still trumps the Lakers, who are 11-15 SU away from L.A. up to this point. 

If the past 10 days are any indication though, the Clippers are going to be just fine moving ahead. Four of their six consecutive wins have come by double digits and their victories have come against some pretty solid competition too. 

VERDICT 

The Clippers have Chris Paul and we've seen what he can do come playoff time, but there's just something about this team that's holding me back. Losing Billups is a massive blow. Even Paul recognized that and said how important he was to the toughness of the team.

The NBA odds at Bovada have the Lakers at +1400 to win the title and the Clippers are +1800, and I'd agree with that assessment dished out by sportsbooks.

Paul and Griffin are a devastating duo, but the Lakers have three absolute studs who have plenty of playoff experience. Throw in some youthful exuberance in the form of Ramon Sessions and some glue guys and I think the Lakers represent the better value going forward.