LOS ANGELES — The Orlando Magic's season has been tough enough.
It was about to become even tougher on Monday night in their game against the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center.
The matchup started a five-game road trip against Western Conference teams.
Although the East's Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers arguably are the two best teams in the NBA, there's no question that the Western Conference is, from top to bottom, far superior to the Eastern Conference.
East teams held an abysmal 57-115 record against West teams through Sunday.
"I think there's shifts and cycles throughout the course of the league," Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said. "Just right now probably the West is a little bit more powerful than the East."
The Heat and the Pacers have combined to go 17-4 against Western Conference teams this season.
But no other East team is even .500 this season versus the West.
If you take the Heat's and Pacers' records out of the mix, the East's record against the West dropped to 40-111 through Sunday.
The Magic began their game Monday night with a 2-10 record against the West.
On this road trip, the Magic will also face the Portland Trail Blazers, Sacramento Kings, Denver Nuggets and Dallas Mavericks.
"You're playing pretty elite teams, teams that are competing for playoff positioning in a tough Western Conference," Vaughn said. "This trip will let us know a lot about ourselves: what we need to improve, what we're good at."
The interior of Staples Center looks different than the last time the Magic played at the arena on Jan. 12, 2013.
New Clippers coach Doc Rivers, who is also the team's senior vice president of basketball operations, pushed to have the Lakers' championship banners and retired numbers covered up during his team's home games.
The Clippers and the Lakers share Staples Center.
Now, oversized banners featuring Blake Griffin, J.J. Redick, DeAndre Jordan, Jared Dudley, Chris Paul and Matt Barnes cover up the Lakers' banners.
Reserve point guard Ronnie Price didn't accompany the Magic on their trip to Los Angeles and won't join the team for its upcoming games in Portland, Sacramento, Denver and Dallas.
Price has a sinus infection.
"The doctors wanted him not to fly," Vaughn said. "That's basically what it boils down to. We're going to miss him.
"I wish I knew John Madden, and Madden was still doing games, and he had a West Coast trip. Then we'd throw him on the bus with Coach Madden and get him here!"
Madden, the former coach of the Oakland Raiders, feared flying.
During his days as a color commentator for CBS, Fox, ABC and NBC, Madden traveled around the country in a customized bus called the Madden Cruiser.
Price appeared in 19 of the Magic's first 33 games.
Vaughn is from the Los Angeles area and still has family living here.
But his time was limited.
"My family, they know me extremely well," Vaughn said. "When I come home during the season, it is strictly business."
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