LOS ANGELES – In the first of two meetings on consecutive nights, the Los Angeles Clippers breezed past the Los Angeles Lakers 103-81.
The Clippers raced out to a quick 20-2 lead making eight of their first 10 field goals of the game. Meanwhile, the Lakers made just one of their first 11 shots.
The Lakers closed the gap to single digits but held a 52-44 at the half with Chris Paul leading the way with 13 points and seven assists for the Clippers. D’Angelo Russell led the way for the Lakers with 12 points.
The Clippers blew the gates wide open in the third quarter expanding their lead to as many as 28 points in the period using a 26-7 run. The Lakers were unable to recover the rest of the second half.
It marks the 10th straight defeat for the Lakers at the hands of the Clippers and ties a franchise worst 61 regular season losses. Here are five things that we learned on Tuesday night:
Heading into his last game against the Clippers, Bryant had a productive career averaging 25.3 points in 67 games. However, it was a rough performance on Tuesday night against scoring just six points on 2-of-12 shooting along with two rebounds and two steals in 22 minutes played.
The 37-year-old got off to a rough start missing his first seven field goal attempts knocking down his first shot with 2:19 left in the second quarter. He missed his two field goals in the period and didn’t take the floor in the fourth quarter with the game well out of hand. (what did he do)
It was an expected move with the Lakers set to take on the Clippers on Wednesday night in the second of back-to-backs, which it’s anticipated that he play.
“I am trying to push through,” Bryant said. “Some games are better than others but you just have to do what you can.”
Slow start dooms Lakers
The tale of the game could be best explained by the Lakers slow start in the first quarter missing 10 out of their first 11 shots while the Clippers took advantage making eight out of their first 10 shots taking a 20-2.
Paul was the major factor of that early surge for the Clippers helping contribute to 15 points during that run scoring 11 points and dishing out a pair of assists. They shot 56.5 percent from the field while the Lakers hit just 27.3 percent of their attempts in the period.
Although the Lakers were able to claw back to within single digits in the second quarter, but the Clippers closed out the deal in the third quarter pushing their lead to as much as 28 points making it too deep of a deficit to overcome.
“The Clippers came out with a good tempo and put away the game,” head coach Byron Scott said. “We did not react well to it. We turned the ball over on our first few possessions of the first half and they were off to the races.”
Paul leads the way
In his 11th season, Paul is still one of the elite point guards in the league averaging a double-double at 19.9 points and 10.0 assists, which is fourth-best in the NBA.
He added to his impressive campaign with another a strong performance against the Lakers recording a game-high 25 points and eight assists. Paul led the charge in the first quarter scoring 13 points and dishing out five assists giving the Clippers build a comfortable early lead.
The 30-year-old was once again a huge factor in third quarter helping the Clippers stretch their lead to a game-high 28 points by scoring 12 and dishing out one assist. His night would end early with his team holding a double-digit lead throughout the second half.
Paul has been a key source of stability for the Clippers throughout his tenure with the team, especially this season leading them to a 30-15 record prior his return on Sunday. He has picked it up significantly following the All-Star break averaging 20.8 points and 11.2 assists over his last 20 games entering Tuesday.
He has picked it up significantly following the All-Star break averaging 20.8 points and 11.2 assists over his last 20 games entering Tuesday. He and Russell Westbrook are the only players averaging 20-plus points and 10-plus assists over that span.
Paul spoke highly of his close friend and former Olympic teammate after the game.
“Killer,” Paul said of one word to describe Bryant. “I think that is the toughest part and competing against Kobe [Bryant] for so long is watching how it is ending. He is a competitor. He wants to win every night. He is saying all the right stuff and doing all the right things. Kobe wants to win, and seeing him end like this is tough.”
It was another discouraging performance by the Lakers’ second-year guard that saw his night end prematurely after his right leg was stepped on early in the fourth quarter.
“My leg just got stepped on,” Jordan Clarkson said, who had 10 points on 4-of-13 shooting in 31 minutes played. “My x-rays came out negative, but is still sore.”
Clarkson had x-rays taking on his right leg that came out negative showing a bruise right fibula making him probable for Wednesday’s game against the Clippers.
The 23-year-old has struggled offensively over the last two games shooting below 38 percent from the field, but will have the chance to turn it around in the final five games of the season.
Griffin has quiet night
In his second game back since returning from his injury/suspension, he had a quiet evening scoring just four points on 1-of-5 shooting along with three rebounds and three assists in 17 minutes.
Griffin was quiet in the first half scoring just two points with one rebound and one assist. He didn’t much more in his limited time in the third quarter making just a pair of free throws and didn’t play the fourth quarter with the game well in hand.
Although Griffin has missed at least 14 games in each of the last two seasons due to injury, he had continued to be one of the most productive players in the league currently just one of four players in NBA history to have career averages of at least 21.0 points, 9.0 rebounds, and 4.0 assists joining three Hall of Famers in Larry Bird, Elgin Baylor, and Wilt Chamberlain.
Following the game, he had praise for Bryant in one of his last games against the 18-time All-Star
“[Kobe Bryant] has meant a lot to the game,” Griffin said. “he has been great. He has been motivating, inspiring. He has done a lot of things for basketball. So being able to be on the court with him these last couple of times is special.”
Bob Garcia IV
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