The Los Angeles Lakers returned from their close loss Tuesday to take on their crosstown foes, the Los Angeles Clippers. It was the first meeting between the two teams since their Halloween matchup where the Lakers fell just short.
Despite picking up two losses in their last three games, the Lakers have been playing better recently. In each game, the result came down to the closing seconds. Kobe Bryant sat out Monday’s in order to get extra rest and returned to the lineup Wednesday.
Joining Bryant in the starting lineup was Jeremy Lin, Wayne Ellington, Ed Davis, and Carlos Boozer. Lin received the start as Ronnie Price recovered from a broken nose and flu.
Bryant started the game by getting a turnover on the first Laker possession and missed a three point attempt the next time down the court. Ellington but the Lakers on the board with a triple of his own. Six unanswered points by the Clippers caused the Lakers to be down early 11-3. Hill ended the scoring drought by hitting a jumper but fouled Blake Griffin on the defensive end. The Lakers continued to struggle on offense while allowing the Clippers to race out as the deficit grew to 14. The Lakers found a way to attack the Clipper defense by getting baskets in the paint. A short 6-0 run was quickly answered with a Chris Paul three pointer. The Lakers got as close as 8, but couldn’t cut into the Clipper lead any further when the rest of the second string entered the game as the quarter came to an end with the Lakers down 34-24.
Ellington started the scoring for the Lakers with a three point shot and found Carlos Boozer for a layup the next possession as the Lakers cut into the Clipper lead 36-29. Jordan Clarkson split the defensive and was on his way for a layup. Glen Davis stopped the attempt with a foul, but the ensuring free throws allowed the Lakers to stay within seven. Boozer had the opportunity to cut the lead to four but missed the hook shot attempt. The Clippers would go up by double digits again with the help of a J.J. Redick four point play and Griffin attacking the rim. With the Lakers failing to get defensive stops, the deficit grew to 15 before the a goaltending call gifted the Lakers two points to bring the score to 56-43. The Lakers found themselves down 20 after Griffin performed a windmill dunk and ended the half down 70-48.
The first Laker points of the half came in transition off a Hill dunk after the Lakers found themselves on a two on one break. The defense still couldn’t find a way to stop the Clippers as the deficit grew to 34. Turnovers didn’t help the Lakers either. Bryant had three early turnovers in the quarter while also struggling to hit any of his shots. The other Lakers had troubles scoring as the Lakers went three minutes without adding to their point total. As the midway point of the neared, Nick Young scored his first points of the night and brought the Lakers out of the drought. The lead as cut to 30 when Bryant hit a jumper. That was the closest the Lakers were able to get as the quarter ended with the Clippers up 99-63.
With the Lakers down 36, Tarik Black entered the game to begin the quarter and made his Laker debut. Even with their starters sitting out the quarter, the Clippers showed no signs of slowing down scoring seven unanswered points. Jordan Clarkson got the first Laker basket four minutes into the quarter. Black got his first points as a Laker by finishing a dunk attempt while also picking up a foul on Spencer Hawes. Nick Young got a steal and lobbed the ball to Clarkson to finished the break with a dunk of his own to bring the score to 112-79. The next time down the court, Young did the scoring himself getting a four point play after drawing a foul and hitting a three point shot. The Lakers would fall by a score of 114-87.
Kobe Bryant On LA Clippers: “They’re Just Better”