For the first time in L.A.’s last two trips to Las Vegas, the Lakers came out with a victory by defeating the Clippers 75-69 on Thursday, snapping a nine-game losing streak that began in the summer of 2010.
Several Lakers played a hand in the victory: Christian Eyenga scoring 22 points on 10 of 15 shooting; Darius Morris nearing a triple-double with 11 points; nine assists and eight boards, Australian Julian Khazzouh scoring 16 points (four three-pointers); and Andrew Goudelock adding 12 of his own.
Big men Robert Sacre and Reeves Nelson combined for 19 rebounds and four blocks and did the proverbial dirty work to help hold the Clippers down despite former Laker Adam Morrison’s 22 points.
The Lakers had struggled considerably in two of their first three games, if competing better in the second and fourth, but Thursday’s was certainly the best all-around effort. The team had been plagued by a lack of cohesion and ball movement, as several players looking to make the senior squad in training camp figured out how to play with one another in balanced fashion.
The three-point line was collectively kind as both teams hit 8 of 17 bombs, with Khazzouh’s four leading the way and Goudelock adding two and Morrison three. Overall, LAL hit 43.8 percent from the field and LAC 43.9 percent, while turnovers were close as well (15-13 LAC).
Several of the game’s highlights were provided by Eyenga, whose slashes to the rim both in transition and in the half court resulted in three hammer dunks, all eliciting roars from the fans in Sin City. The Lakers coaches have been impressed with Eyenga’s work ethic in the offseason – nobody spent more time at the team’s facility – and were surely pleased to see a strong overall game after he’d been hot and cold in the first four contests.
The team is set to return to Los Angeles on Friday morning, with many hoping to get a call to come back to L.A. for October’s training camp with guys named Kobe, Pau, Steve and Andrew.