The Los Angeles Lakers played their first regular season game against the Clippers since their cross-town rival added Chris Paul. There was a lot of hype coming into this game as the two Los Angeles basketball teams were Western Conference contenders at the same time.
Kobe Bryant came into this game by scoring 40 points in three-consecutive game and it was clear that the wrist injury has had no impact on his game.
Kobe had not played a competitive Clippers team in long time, and everyone could see that he was motivated to show the world that the Lakers were still the city’s franchise.
The crowd was into the game from the start and the players were anxious to get the ball into the air. Although this was just one of 66 regular season games, both squads were ready for a 48 minute battle.
However, the Clippers were the ones who came out with more energy and were pushing the ball up the court. The Clippers got all of their stars into the game early and they forced Kobe Bryant to take tough shots to open the period. After a Chauncey Billups three, the Clippers found themselves up 13-4 with a little over seven minutes left in the quarter.
After scoring 40 points in three straight games, Bryant scored his first two points mid-way into the period and Lakers fans were hoping that would bring him back into the action. Kobe started the game 1-4, but he helped the Lakers on the boards with three quick grabs. At the 5:44 mark of the period, the Lakers cut the Clippers’ eight point lead down to three, 10-13.
The Clippers answered the Lakers’ 8-0 run with one of their own and turned their energy up a notch after their time-out. They continued to run the ball on the Lakers and found easy baskets near the hoop and through penetration.
The first quarter ended with some feistiness as Mike Brown was charged with a technical foul after Blake Griffin grabbed Darius Morris in the air. However, Morris made Griffin pay for his rough play by hitting a buzzer-beating half-court shot to end the period.
After 12 minutes, the Lakers were trailing 31-24. Kobe and Morris lead the Lakers in scoring with five points, and as a team the Lakers shot 45% from the field.
With Kobe Bryant on the bench for his usual rest, the Lakers relied on Pau Gasol and four reserves to bring them back into the game. Coming off a great shot from Morris to end the quarter, the Lakers came out of the break feeling confident. With Gasol anchoring the offense, players like Jason Kapono found open shots on the perimeter and it helped the Lakers cut the lead down to three, 31-28, with 9:34 left in the second.
However, just when it seemed like the Lakers would regain the lead, the Clippers surged ahead by nine points. Sparked by veteran guard Chauncey Billups, the Clippers tried to extend their lead before Kobe re-entered the game.
Although Kobe helped the Lakers cut the lead down to one possession, his streaky shooting allowed the Clippers to once again bring their advantage close to ten. Bryant was unable to find his shot, and his 3-12 shooting was hurting the Lakers dearly. At the 4:08 mark of the second, the Lakers found themselves down 45-36.
Just like the opening period, the second quarter ended with a little bit of animosity and Matt Barnes picked up a technical foul. The Clippers ended the quarter extremely well and they headed into the locker-room up 55-42.
Kobe Bryant ended the first half with 11 points, but on 3-12 shooting and the Lakers let four Clippers score over 10 points in 24 minutes.
Kobe Bryant started the second half with two straight Lakers buckets and a Derek Fisher cut the Clippers’ lead down to single-digits, but the opposition matched every move. The Lakers were making their shots, but they were unable to close out on the Clippers’ shooters.
The Clippers were knocking down their three-point shots and opened up a 14 point lead, 67-53, with 5:37 left in the period.
The game once again started to become a little more physical and it was obvious that the team’s did not like each other. There were a plethora of technical fouls and a bunch of diminutive altercations on the floor. On top of that, Kobe Bryant was beginning to throw up tough jumpers which lead to easy rebounds for the Clippers.
However, once Kobe Bryant got himself to the line for five straight, he not only sparked himself, but his teammates. There was a resurgence of energy in the Lakers and they cut the Clippers’ once 14 point lead down to four, 72-68, with a little over one minutes left in the period.
At end of 36 minutes, the Lakers found themselves trailing 76-72 after an incredible third quarter by Kobe Bryant. Heading into the final 12, Kobe had already racked up 32 points, six rebounds and three assists.
The Lakers and Clippers turned up the energy in the fourth quarter and every possession carried a little more meaning. Although Kobe Bryant continued his hot streak, the Lakers had trouble stopping Chris Paul. Paul was dissecting the defense and got easy shots near the hoop, with 8:55 left in the game, the Clippers were up 86-78.
The Lakers were able to score the ball, but they could not stop the Clippers on the other end of the floor to create a run. Kobe’s shooting was essentially ostracizing the other players and eventually he could not carry the Lakers on his shoulders, and with 4:01 left in the game and the Lakers down by 13, Kobe needed help.
However, Kobe did not receive much help and even with Chris Paul out of the game late with a hamstring injury, the Lakers could not pull-off the victory.
As the final buzzer rang, the Clippers found themselves up 102-94 and won round one of the Battle of Los Angeles.
Kobe Bryant once again scored over 40 points, but this time the Clippers found a way to beat their cross-town rivals.
Lakers Nation Giveaway
No one guessed the first Lakers players to record a three-point shot, a dunk and a steal, which were Darius Morris, Andrew Bynum and Kobe Bryant, respectively.