The Clippers hosted the Lakers on Sunday afternoon in what was the last meeting between the two Staples Center co-tenants. The last time these two teams met, the Clippers embarrassed the Lakers with a 48 point loss, the worst loss in Lakers franchise history. The Clippers were looking for a bounce back win after Thursday night’s loss to Dallas, and the Lakers were looking to just looking to stay competitive.
The Clippers donned their sleeved baby blue jerseys and had J.J. Redick return to the starting lineup. The Lakers starting lineup wasn’t a stellar one. Most of the guys should have come off the bench, but were starting in place for the injured veterans. That’s been the story for the Lakers all year, but the Clippers were also missing key reserves. Jamal Crawford and Danny Granger were ruled out, but that didn’t slow down the rest of the team.
Both teams came out a bit slow and sluggish and had plenty of sloppy passes and turnovers between them in the first quarter. The reason behind both teams sluggish start could have been that it was an early afternoon game. Who likes getting up for those games?
The Lakers were the clear underdogs of the game but kept the game close in the first half. The Clippers lead at halftime 57-49, and it seemed that despite getting blown out of Staples Center the last meeting, the Lakers were determined to make the Clippers sweat a bit.
The Lakers essentially had no big men for this game and only dressed 8 players, with Pau Gasol , Chris Kaman, Jordan Farmar, Xavier Henry, and Steve Nash out; the Lakers were forced to rely on fan favorites Nick Young and Jordan Hill for the scoring load.
In the first half, the two combined for 33 of the Lakers 49 points at halftime. Young was the leading scorer for game and the team making 5 of 11 shots, totaling for 17 points, while Hill was the second leading scorer for the Lakers with 16 points.
Blake Griffin lead the way for the Clippers in the first half with 16 points, and continued to show why he’s in the top three for MVP voting. Chris Paul looked sharp and was the second leading scorer with 13 points in the half. J.J. Redick showed no sign of rust in his return and had 11 points as well.
As the second half got under way, with the Lakers only down 8, Blake Griffin was fouled in what was called a clear path foul, and that’s when the game turned. Despite Mike D’Antoni’s disappointment with the call and an immediate timeout, the Lakers lost their first half mojo, and couldn’t seem to find an answer for slowing down the Clippers transition offense.
The Clippers found an answer for Nick Young, forcing him into traps and making him commit turnovers in the process. With 5:39 remaining in the third, Chris Paul hit his 4th three pointer of the game, putting the Clippers up by 18 with an 81-63 lead. It was clear that CP3 was ready for the game, and was showing no kind of mercy for the purple and gold.
The Clippers closed the third quarter on a 22 to 11 run and the game was looking more like a blowout; with the Clippers up 94-72. Nick Young left the game with a knee injury, and left the Lakers with almost no scoring option, other than Jodie Meeks if he was considered one?
Nick Young returned to the game, but was ice-cold the rest of the way, scoring only 1 point in the second half. The rest of the Lakers were not much of a factor for the rest of the game. Jodie Meeks had 17, Wesley Johnson had 10, Jordan Hill had 22, and Kendall Marshall had a quiet double-double with 10 points and 11 assists. Their scoring efforts were clearly not enough to upset the Clippers on this day. The Clippers again defeated the Lakers by a large margin in front of a cool and calm LA Crowd.
The Clippers big three combined for 57 of the 120 points, and made the game look incredibly easy. Chris Paul and Blake Griffin each had 23 points apiece, while DeAndre Jordan had a double-double with 11 points and pulling down 12 rebounds. J.J. Redick was the fourth leading scorer with 15 points going 7 for 11 from the field.
These two LA teams are headed in different directions. One is headed to the playoffs, while the other is headed for uncertain future. The Clippers displayed their dominance and showed why they are in the conversation for being legit title contenders. It’s been a long season, but the Clippers may be a team of destiny that everyone forgot about.