Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Sunday afternoon “road” contest against the Clippers at STAPLES Center as the Lakers looked for their eighth straight win, with some comments drawn from our @LakersReporter Twitter account, and a few more details in case you missed any of the action:
Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Artest, Gasol and Bynum
Clippers: B. Davis, E. Gordon, R. Gomes, B. Griffin, D. Jordan
6:00 An evenly played first six minutes resulted in an even 12-12 scoreline, with Gasol and Bryant pacing the Lakers with four points apiece and Baron Davis scoring five, Eric Gordon four for the Clips. The matchups were different from the last time these two teams played* due to Bynum’s return, meaning Blake Griffin had to guard Gasol.
*Derek Fisher won the game for L.A. with a buzzer-beating layup.
4:15 The next two minutes belonged to the Clippers, who went on a 7-2 run to open a 21-14 lead thanks to Jordan’s second put-back dunk and an Al-Farouq Aminu three-pointer. Meanwhile, we saw Artest strip a thought-he-was-by-him Gordon on a drive, making me think of a pregame chat I had with Clips reserve guard Randy Foye about how Artest had the league’s strongest hands.
0:10.7 A tough put-back layup through traffic from Gasol closed the scoring in the first period, though he missed the and-1 free throw, and Bryant 1-of-2 moments earlier as the red and blue team held a 27-22 lead. Griffin, Gordon and Co. have hurt teams of late with their athleticism and youthful exuberance, which did have an early affect on the Lakers.
10:24 A terrific offensive rebound in traffic and put-back drop-in layup from Bynum quickly cut the Clips lead to one, and was followed by a tough and-1 from Odom over Griffin after Odom won a jump ball from a guy with whom he’s competing for a Western Conference All-Star berth. The two added respective blocks on defense, sparking the Lakers 7-0 run that put the Lakers on top by a point.
5:28 More Bynum (a power dunk) and Odom (a pull-up three) resulted in a 36-33 Lakers lead, with Steve Blake providing key energy and direction — if not statistics — in the backcourt. The collective energy from the Blake-Brown-Walton-Odom-Bynum group allowed extra rest for Bryant and Gasol, who’d check back in up three instead of down five after the first quarter.
0:01.8 L.A.’s starters gave up their lead almost immediately to the Clips before rallying back to take a 1-point lead at the break, Odom adding a bucket and Bryant 1-of-2 free throws to make it 45-44 for the visitors. Odom, knowing that Griffin is among his main rivals for a coveted All-Star berth, out-performed the rookie with eight points, five boards and two blocks in 15 minutes, compared with Griffin’s two points and five boards in 14 foul-plagued minutes. L.A. held the Clips to just 24 percent shooting in the period, getting solid perimeter defense from Blake and Brown and good rim protection from Bynum and Odom inside.
6:43 Perhaps noticing that his starting backcourt was being outscored 27-10 by Davis and Gordon, Bryant converted a tough and-1 and then a pull-up J to put the Lakers up 56-53. The scoring margin was due in part to Fisher’s slow start (1-for-6) and the fact that Davis/Gordon had attempted 24 shots to Kobe/Fisher’s 12 before the two Kobe makes.
5:10 Just a minute later, and Bryant had thrown an alley-oop to a flying-high Bynum, then added a soft baseline jumper — his Oscar Robertson tribute — to put the Lakers up 62-55. On the other end of the court, Griffin continued to struggle, missing two more shots to fall to 1-for-10 from the field.
0:01.0 With a buzzer-beating three from the corner, Gordon capped a 13-4 Clippers run to close the quarter, erasing the full control L.A. had exhibited behind Bryant’s scoring burst that opened a 12-point lead on his three-pointer. Both shooting guards had 22 points, while Bynum had a healthy 16-point, 12-rebound double-double in the post.
9:23 After a series of jab steps, Odom pulled up for a jumper with Griffin in his face, sinking it to put the Lakers up 75-70. Clips coach Vinny del Negro had kept Griffin, Gordon and Jordan in the game after watching his second unit struggle with that of the Lakers in the second quarter.
5:31 Phil Jackson wasn’t too happy with what he saw out of a LAC time out as a small Clippers line up featuring guards Randy Foye, Davis and Gordon worked the ball around until Gordon’s open three swished home. Odom then missed a three on the other end, and Griffin scored on the right block to cut L.A.’s lead to just a point at 79-78. Time out, Phil.
3:24 Gordon’s fourth three, back-to-back hoops from Griffin and finally Foye’s second three of the quarter suddenly had the Clips up 88-83, the Lakers failing to use their size advantage inside with Griffin (6-10) and Ike Diogu (6-9) inside against Gasol and Bynum. An entry pass finally getting through produced Bynum’s dunk, but the Lakers conceded a Gordon transition dunk off a steal and free throws from Griffin, their deficit growing to nine. L.A. wouldn’t get much closer, the Clippers holding on for a 99-92 victory to snap L.A.’s seven-game winning streak in the process. Crunch time included a strange build up of angry bodies (see below), but the bottom line was remained that the Lakers gave up a game they had well under control down the stretch, something we hadn’t seen in a few weeks.
22 Points through three quarters for both Kobe Bryant and Eric Gordon, leading their respective L.A. teams from the shooting guard position. Bryant would finish with 27 in the game, and Gordon 30 thanks to nine in the fourth quarter to lead all scorers.
15 Offensive rebounds conceded by the Lakers, due to DeAndre Jordan’s seven and Ike Diogu’s six, which hurt the Lakers throughout the afternoon.
13 Rebounds for Andrew Bynum in his solid game off the bench, which included 18 points and three blocks as the Lakers lost for just the second time since he returned to the starting line up 10 games earlier.
4 Ejections late in the fourth quarter, when Lamar Odom grabbed Griffin’s jersey in the final seconds, then took exception to Griffin’s … taking exception? … to it. Griffin, however, turned away, but Baron Davis came in and pushed Odom, igniting a fast build up of bodies. Ron Artest, who years ago had Odom’s back in while the two played AAU ball together in Queens, sprinted in and tried to separate Odom from the group, but still found himself ejected along with the other three.
2 First half points for Griffin on 1-of-6 shooting, with five boards. Fortunately for the Clippers he’d turn things around in a big way late in the game, closing with 18 points (though on 20 field goal attempts) and 13 rebounds.