LOS ANGELES – In the second night of back-to-backs, the Los Angeles Lakers fell once again to the Los Angeles Clippers 91-81.
The Lakers got off to a much better start leading for much of the quarter, but the Clippers took a 29-25 advantage in the second period on 54.2 percent shooting.
The Clippers expanded their lead to as many as 12 points in the second quarter with DeAndre Jordan nearly posting a double-double in the first half with nine points and nine rebounds. Kobe Bryant led the Lakers with 10 points at the half while Julius Randle had 13 boards along with four points.
The Clippers held control of the game throughout the second half behind four players scoring in double figures and held as much as a 17-point lead.
The loss gives the Lakers a franchise-worst 62 regular season losses, here are five things that we learned on Wednesday night:
Bryant notches 17 points
Coming off a disappointing performance on Tuesday night where he scored just six points, Bryant responded with 17 points on 6-of-19 shooting along with three rebounds in 28 minutes played.
It was a completely different story from the start with Bryant scoring 10 of the Lakers’ first 20 points knocking four of their first seven shots. He cooled off in the second quarter missing all five of his shot attempts in the period and was even blocked by Jordan.
Bryant added a couple of his vintage fadeaway jumpers in the third quarter, but his shooting struggles continued. He was quiet the rest of the night missing his only two field goals in the final period of play.
“It’s weird to say it felt the same,” Bryant said of Wednesday night being the second-to-last home game. “I’ve been trying to take it all in for awhile now. You can feel kind of the energy in the crowd. There’s one game left. Pretty crazy.”
With four games left in the season, expect him to suit up in each in the final week of his career.
Lakers’ shooting struggles
Coming off a discouraging performance the night before, the Lakers shooting problems continued on Wednesday against the Clippers shooting 35.6 percent for the game.
The Lakers failed to crack 40 percent shooting from the field in the final three quarters of the game and finished shooting 21.1 percent from beyond the arc.
Much of their offensive issues stemmed from trying to get Bryant involved as much as possible when he’s on the floor. When he wasn’t in the game, things didn’t change with the team recording just 12 assists, which was one above the season-low that was recorded in Tuesday’s game.
Despite that, Lakers head coach Byron Scott felt his team put forth more effort in the loss.
“I just thought that we showed a little bit more fight tonight,” Scott said. “Especially in the second half, we showed a little bit more fight. That is what I was looking for. I am glad that they did come ready to play a little bit more and be a lot more competitive tonight than they were last night.”
A night after lighting up the Lakers, Chris Paul had a highly productive night in his limited time on the floor scoring 13 points along with eight assists in just 25 minutes played.
Paul put up a productive first half scoring nine points and dished out five assists helping the Clippers hold a 54-42 edge at the half. He tailed off in the final two quarters with his team holding control of the game, and sat the entire fourth quarter.
Following the game, Paul was reflective of his final game against Bryant.
“I competitive the whole game,”Paul said. “It’s still a competition. I think that’s where the respect factor comes in. When you see that they compete and they make it tough on you, that’s when the respect comes in. I told him [the Lakers] have one more home game, against Utah, and I’m sure that’s going to be crazy.”
Griffin bounces back
Following a quiet outing on Tuesday night, Griffin responded with a productive performance scoring 13 points with eight rebounds, and three assists in 25 minutes.
He was had a strong first quarter making all four of his field goal scoring a team-high 11 points and five rebounds. Griffin’s impact tailed off over the next two quarters registering just two points on 1-of-6 shooting, and he wouldn’t take the floor in the fourth quarter with the game well in hand.
It was a positive sign for the Clippers to see Griffin put together a strong night in just his third game back. With four games left in the season, it will provide more opportunity to build off that before heading into the playoffs.
Griffin was also appreciative of being able to play Bryant one last time in his career.
“It’s a little bittersweet. He’s a guy that I watched play for so long, and drawn inspiration from,” Griffin said. “I think more so just from his work ethic, and the stories you hear, and how he went about playing the game of basketball. He’s still out there playing hard though, so that’s something that I’ll always appreciate”
Randle posts career-high 20 rebounds
It was once again another difficult shooting night for the Lakers’ second-year forward hitting just 3-of-11 shot attempts for seven points but did grab a career-high 20 rebounds in the loss.
Randle was active on the boards throughout the game, including grabbing a first-half high 13 rebounds.
“My mentality was just to go and get it, it wasn’t anything special,” Randle said. “I had to make up for it a little bit too because I could not hit a shot, I just had to go get them.”
It made him the first Laker since Ed Davis on Feb. 4, 2015, to reach that mark. He’s also the youngest Laker since at least 1983-84 season to grab 20-plus rebounds, surpassing the previous mark of Andrew Bynum when he had 23 boards at 23 years old.
Bob Garcia IV
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