Kobe Bryant will play his last game as a “visitor” of Staples Center tonight when the Los Angeles Lakers take on the Los Angeles Clippers. Kobe Bryant has owned Staples Center since its inception in the 1999-00 season, but this will be his final game playing on the Clippers’ hardwood.
There are six games remaining in Kobe’s career and he will play his final game at Staples Center against the Utah Jazz on April 13. The Clippers are battling for playoff seeding in the Western Conference and they will likely finish with the fourth seed.
Like teams around the league have already done, the Clippers organization honored Kobe with a video tribute prior to the game. The Lakers will take on the Clippers tomorrow on the Lakers home court for the final time this season.
The Clippers opened the game up with a 13-2 run and the Lakers sole field goal came courtesy of D’Angelo Russell, who made a difficult off balance leaning jumper. The Lakers abysmal shooting from the field continued, as the Clippers pushed their lead to 20-2 after Chris Paul scored easily in the lane. Midway through the first, Russell had all seven of the Lakers points, but they Lakers could not get any stops on the defensive end. With three minutes remaining in the first quarter, former Laker Wesley Johnson, made a three-pointer to extend the Clippers lead to 16 points. Jeff Green provided the highlight of the night as he extended his right arm and posterized Tarik Black and converted the three-point play. Metta World Peace ended the quarter with a corner three, but the Lakers trailed 22-33 after one.
Tarik Black redeemed himself with a cutback jam with his left hand, and suddenly the Lakers shooting percentage began to improve. World Peace kept the Lakers in the game, ripping Blake Griffin and finishing in transition with a dunk to give him 10 points in the game, bringing the Lakers within eight. The Clippers extended their lead to 10 points midway through the second, as Kobe Bryant checked back into the game. Russell knocked down a corner three-pointer in semi-transition to give him 12 points in the game. The Lakers began to play hounding defense on the Clippers and only trailed by nine points with three minutes remaining in the half. Kobe Bryant finally hit his first jumpshot in the game, after missing his first eight, with two minutes remaining, as he cut the Lakers’ deficit to seven points. Kobe Bryant finished the quarter with a rebound and a layup for his second field goal, and the Lakers trailed 44-52.
The Clippers came out of the half just as hot as they started the game, outscoring the Lakers 8-3 and increasing their lead to 13 points. The Clippers began to pull away four minutes into the third quarter and the Lakers trailed by 21 points and had no offense going for them. The Clippers went on a 15-0 run and the Lakers trailed by 24 points with 4:31 remaining in the third quarter. World Peace forced another turnover and Marcelo Huertas made a reverse layup in transition. Ryan Kelly fouled Austin Rivers at the end of the quarter and Rivers knocked down two free throws. At the end of three the Lakers trailed 60-84.
Ryan Kelly put together a solid game on the offensive end, scoring his 12th point in the game, shooting 5-7 from the field. The Clippers had control of the game with both teams playing their second units, but Huertas made a nice three-point play to cut the Lakers deficit to 19 points. Midway through the fourth quarter, the Lakers trailed by 24, as the Russell, Huertas, Sacre, Randle, and Kelly remained in the game. Jeff Green tried to posterize Robert Sacre, but Sacre fouled him hard and Green fell on his back. Green was okay and he got up to knock down two free throws. World Peace scored a season high 17 points, but they were not enough to keep the Lakers in the game. The game was never competitive and the Lakers never really gave themselves a chance compete from the beginning.
Final Score: Lakers 81 Clippers 103