Lakers 96, Clippers 91: Jan. 25 Running Diary

Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Wednesday evening home contest against the Clippers, the Lakers looking to snap a three-game losing skid, with some comments drawn from our @LakersReporter Twitter account, and a few more details in case you missed any of the action:

Starters
Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Barnes, Gasol and Bynum
Clippers: C. Paul, C. Billups, C. Butler, B. Griffin, D. Jordan

FIRST QUARTER
5:28 A big focus of Lakers practice this week was getting the ball inside effectively, through double teams, with improved spacing. That happened early, Gasol and Bynum getting four total field goals, and Barnes converting a layup. However, L.A. didn’t practice contesting threes, apparently, as Caron Butler opened absolutely on fire, hitting four consecutive from outside, including three triples, to give the Clips an early 19-9 lead. The Lakers then came out of the time out on a 6-0 run to cut the lead to four.

2:29 Providing the bench spark? Second rounder Andrew Goudelock, who jumped Darius Morris in Mike Brown’s rotation and promptly rewarded his coach by draining first a baseline two, and then an open three to tie the game at 23. L.A. was clicking on offense, making 10-of-16 shots, while the D had picked up after the Butler perimeter barrage.

0:00 Behind 58 percent field goals (not bad considering the blistering LAC start), the Clips took a 27-25 lead out of the first. Gasol started 4-for-4 for L.A. before rimming out his fifth FGA to lead with nine points.

SECOND QUARTER
8:58 The second unit was far less efficient than the starters for L.A., missing all four FGA’s and getting only two Gasol (who had yet to sit) free throws. But the D was energetic, the Clips managing 2-for-7 shooting to claim a 32-27 lead.

6:40 Bynum’s baseline hook picked up where Gasol had left off scoring wise, the Spaniard up to 15 points on 6-of-8 FG’s in 16 impressive minutes. He was helped further by Goudelock, who drained two more shots, including his second three, for 10 bench points in 11 minutes. The Clips did get eight bench points of their own from Mo Williams (2 3′s) to maintain a 40-38 lead.

0:00 Two unnecessary fouls off the ball by L.A. got Billups four free throws (he made three) in the final two minutes, but the Lakers got a corner three from Fisher (his first hoop) with nine seconds left to trail by just two into halftime.

THIRD QUARTER
11:00 One obvious adjustment made by Bynum after a few days of practice: actively re-posting if he doesn’t have good position on the catch. It worked early in the third, drawing Jordan’s third PF, two free throws getting Bynum to 11 points. Speaking of free throws … he was shooting only 54 percent on the season, far below what he “should” be hitting considering his nice touch.

9:30 But on the other end, CP3 was making it really tough on Bynum and L.A.’s defense, extending his dribble through the paint, drawing Bynum out and then finding Jordan on the weak side for consecutive hoops that put the Clips up 60-51.

2:35 It’s always tough to understand why players rotate off hot three-point shooters, but L.A. did just that for the fourth time of the evening, and Williams made them pay by draining his third triple. L.A. thought it had a lead when Bryant hit a leaner in the paint, but that bucket was negated for traveling, and the Clips scored the next five points to lead 69-63.

FOURTH QUARTER
11:45 Continuing his fantastic individual game, Gasol hit a 15-footer to cap his personal 5-0 run (including a free throw and up-and-under lay up to close the third) to reach 22 points on only 12 shots. In the process, he got the Lakers within a point, despite six Bryant turnovers alone in that third quarter compared with LAC’s six in the game.

5:36 The game stayed tight as could be, L.A. finally grabbing the lead on Bryant’s three, but giving it up on the next possession on Paul’s 2nd field goal (only 6 FGA’s, with 10 assists in 22 minutes). Another potentially key note: L.A. had drawn the fourth Clippers foul with eight minutes left, but had yet to get into the bonus.

2:24 My tweet: (Harlan voice) Metta … World … Peace?? His team-high 7th assist gets Bynum a layup, & LAL an 89-84 lead. 2:24 to go. Would you have guessed that World Peace was +20? That’s PLUS 20! Some are bigger than others on in-game plus/minus, but his energy had very obviously been a huge bonus for the Lakers.

0:23.9 Bynum had been relatively quiet as World Peace and Bryant carried L.A. through the final quarter, but he made two huge plays in the final minute, first converting a layup in traffic after a lob from Bryant (whom the defense had collapsed upon), and then swatting Jordan at the other end. Bryant gathered the loose ball after the block, hit 1-of-2 free throws, then earned two more (again hitting one) by deflecting Griffin’s pass off Butler. That put L.A. up 93-87 with 15.2 seconds left.

The final: Lakers 96, Clippers 91. It was a very strong, spirited effort from the Lakers, who used a 28-20 fourth quarter edge to snap a 3-game losing streak, and avenge a Jan. 14 loss at the Clips.