Prior to Sunday’s Staples Center Shootout finale between L.A.’s two basketball teams, Phil Jackson was asked if he’d hold anything back, considering that the Lakers and Clippers open the regular season in just nine days.
“I hold back almost until March,” said Jackson.
Right. In other words, Jackson may toss in some sprinkles, hot fudge and (if he decides to get crazy) Gummy Bears come playoff time, but particularly in the preseason, it’s straight vanilla. No toppings.
Vanilla or not, 17,932 people saw a better-than-average preseason game that moved far more quickly than Saturday night’s win over Charlotte thanks to fewer fouls (55) and turnovers (29). As it turned out, the L.A. team wearing purple and gold overcame a poor first quarter to emerge with a 114-108 victory over the Clippers. The “home” team managed just 22 points to the Clips’ 33 in the first, but outscored their red and blue counterparts 92-75 for the rest of the game to get to 4-1 in the preseason.
Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom and Luke Walton missed the game with minor injuries for the second consecutive night – though Jackson said that all could have played were it a playoff game – leaving only Andrew Bynum to fill the void against a rather large Clippers squad.
That he did.
While L.A.’s 21-year-old center struggled to finish inside for the first time this preseason, hitting only 2-of-8 shots in the first half and 7-of-17 for the game, Bynum still managed to get the shots he wanted near the hoop despite the presence of seven-footer Chris Kaman, and impressed defensively and with his work rate in transition. Better yet, he had his best rebounding game of the preseason, cleaning the glass 13 times in 32 minutes to complement his 20 points.
“It was much better,” said Phil Jackson of his center’s performance on defense and the glass. “I thought the rebounding was good, and the fourth quarter run by (Bynum) and the second unit that played well enough to hold them off.”
Ron Artest had arguably his most comfortable performance of the preseason with 13 points, five rebounds and two steals in 24 minutes (“I thought he was very good,” said Jackson), while Adam Morrison, Shannon Brown and Jordan Farmar were all very effective off the bench. Morrison nailed all four of his three-pointers and had 14 total points, Brown went for 20 points on 8-of-13 shooting and Farmar added 11 points and a team-high seven assists in 24 minutes.
And so, whether Jackson is interested in the team’s preseason record or not, the Lakers coasted to their fourth win in five tries heading into Tuesday’s game in Ontario, CA, against Golden State.
1 Lakers double-double in the game, assembled by Andrew Bynum. The young center scored 20 points and 13 rebounds in the first three quarters. No. 1 overall pick Blake Griffin (pictured at top) added a double-double with 13 points and 12 boards of his own.
5 Lakers players to hit at least one three-pointer (Adam Morrison, Ron Artest, Shannon Brown, Jordan Farmar and Tony Gaffney), led by four from a slick-shooting Morrison.
8 Clipper turnovers forced by the Lakers in the third quarter, as the home team took a 26-17 edge in the preseason to head into the fourth quarter up 83-77. The Lakers turned the ball over only 13 times in the game, forcing 17 from the Clippers.
26 Game-high points scored by newly-acquired Clippers reserve forward Craig Smith in just 22 minutes.
31.8 Lakers shooting percentage in a rough offensive first quarter, including 1-of-6 efforts from both Bynum and Derek Fisher. The Clippers capitalized by taking a 33-22 lead out of the initial quarter.
49.2 L.A.’s shooting percentage for the rest of the game, allowing them to outscore the Clippers 92-75 in the final three quarters to win the game by six.