Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Saturday evening road contest against the Clippers, the Lakers looking for a sixth 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, Barnes, Gasol and Bynum
Clippers: C. Paul, C. Billups, C. Butler, B. Griffin, D. Jordan
9:29 A real strong swat from Gasol on Griffin was the first head turner of the evening, and it turned into offense on the other end as Barnes drew a foul in transition and hit both foul shots. Griffin had scored on Gasol on the previous trip, but the Spaniard’s length can give him problems.
0:00 The Clips gained control of the quarter as Kobe struggled from the field (1-for-6) and L.A. had trouble getting good entry passes to their bigs, but got a ridiculous running halfcourt heave from rookie Darius Morris to beat the buzzer, cutting the lead to 31-24. Morris was being asked to do quite a bit, not only guarding Chris Paul but also running the offense, and had twice turned it over earlier trying to get the ball inside.
5:51 Bryant continued to struggle to find his range, making just 3-for-11, but he did get a tough alley-oop tip in lay up to fall off a McRoberts pass, cutting the Clips lead to 39-36. The Lakers were having problems on the personal foul front, however, as all but one player of the nine who’d played had committed a foul, including three on McRoberts and two on Kapono. The only guy not to commit one? Matt Barnes, who came in leading the team with 37 PF’s on the season.
4:10 A defensive breakdown from the Lakers on the perimeter led directly to a wide open three pointer from Billups, which he drained to put LAC up 45-36. Mike Brown immediately called a time out, and wrote the words “MULTIPLE EFFORT!!!” with three underlines. If you’re confused as to why I know that, we’re pulling double duty for road games with the sideline on KCAL-9. Brown was very animated, and he had his players nodding in silence.
0:00 The quarter didn’t end much better, however. The Clips gathered 13 offensive boards, waaaay more than LAL typically concede in a game, and got to the line consistently to take a 55-42 lead into the break. The Clippers were definitely working harder, and the scoreboard reflected it. An apologist could suggest that LAL came in on a back-to-back and had played the most games in the league, 13, in 21 days while the Clips had played just eight, but Brown didn’t want to hear that.
6:00 With the shot clock falling quickly, Paul found a way to sneak into a tiny opening, and converted a tough leaner to put the Clips up 65-53. L.A. was doing a better job cleaning its defensive glass, but it continued to struggle hitting shots, converting only 21-of-52.
2:48 L.A. cut the lead to eight thanks to back-to-back long jumpers from Kobe, finally finding his range from the perimeter, but the Clips answered with a Griffin drive and CP3 technical free throw, this one coming on Darius Morris, for getting into it in the corner. The lead was thus at 11, L.A. still trying to find traction despite continuing to struggle to find its legs.
0:50.0 Then, suddenly, L.A. found its game, rolling off points (mostly from Bryant) and finally clearing the defensive glass to cut the 13-point halftime lead all the way down to 3 when Bryant hit 1-of-2 FT’s. The miss, however, was cleared by Randy Foye (whom Bryant had just blocked), whose FT’s in the bonus put the lead back at four at the quarter break. In case you were keeping track, Bryant exploded for 21 points in the third to get the Lakers back into the game, and himself within eight points of a fourth consecutive 40-point night.
8:55 The biggest shot of the game to that point came from Paul, on a desperation 3-point attempt with the clock expiring, to restore an eight-point lead in the midst of L.A.’s furious comeback attempt. Rookie Morris was still in the game, and took advantage of a Gasol tip out to sink a baseline jumper, cutting the lead to 84-78.
5:00 Bryant got two more tough jumpers to fall, boosting his total to 36 points, but the Clips responded with a bucket by Jordan at the rim to make it a 91-82 lead. With the home team aggressively doubling Kobe, trying to get the ball out of his hands on one end, Paul continued to excel on the other, first feeding Griffin for a dunk, then reaching 33 points on a tough fallaway to make it a 13-point edge.
0:00 A determined second-half effort ended up being not quite enough for the Lakers to erase that 13-point halftime lead. Bryant continued to score, mostly on tough jumpers, to reach 42 points, but the Lakers consequently didn’t get the ball inside to punish the Clippers inside, Bynum and Gasol combining for just eight second half points. Whether tired legs caught up to L.A. or not, the Clippers earned the win, particularly with Paul’s outstanding game. We’ll see you back at STAPLES for a home game on Monday against Dallas. Final score: 102-94 Clips.