Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Friday night home contest against the Clippers, with some comments drawn from our @LakersReporter Twitter account, and a few more details in case you missed any of the action:
Lakers: Blake, Bryant, World Peace, Gasol and Howard
Clippers: C. Paul, W. Green, C. Butler, B. Griffin, D. Jordan
5:30 An eventful first six minutes had L.A. doing some nice things on offense despite missing Steve Nash, out with a lower leg contusion, as Howard’s five points and Kobe’s four came within the flow. However, the D continued to struggle as it had in the first two contests, the Clips hitting 6 of 11 shots plus four free throws that produced a 18-11 lead. Howard, DeAndre Jordan and Willie Green were all on the bench with two fouls, Howard’s absence the most impactful.
0:00 Thanks to Bryant, the deficit was only five heading into the second quarter (28-23), No. 24 scoring 14 points on 4 of 7 field goals plus 5 of 5 free throws. He also made some franchise history, matching Magic Johnson’s franchise record for steals at 1,724, 15th in NBA history.
9:00 The Lakers needed back-to-back three-pointers to stay in this one, as the Clippers were controlling the play on both ends of the floor. Blake’s 3 cut what was as many as an 11-point lead to seven at 36-29.
0:00 Considering the fact that Howard played only 10 minutes in the half after leaving early in the second with his third foul, and that the Lakers committed nine more turnovers, being down 52-47 at the half wasn’t all that bad for the home team. Their on-ball defense was actually pretty good, but LAC turned all three offensive boards into points, and got 12 transition points to LAL’s three. Steve Blake, Darius Morris and Devin Ebanks all hit a triple, 6 of 9 for the Lakers helping keep them around.
7:24 With an and-1 off one of his patented up-fakes into a jumper, Bryant answered Willie Green’s 2nd triple of the quarter, then found Howard with a pretty no-look pass on other end, resulting in two free throws. Howard made 1 of 2 (4 of 6 in the game), LAL thus down 62-57.
2:11 After Howard picked up his fourth foul, the Clips took their biggest lead at 75-63 thanks mostly to Paul and his 12 assists, plus a pull-up jumper out of a pick and roll. LAL were up to 14 turnovers, and had conceded 16 second chance points to the visitors. Moments later, a frustrated Mike Brown got hit with a technical for complaining about a blocking call on Blake, who for the second time in moments thought he drew a charge.
0:00 Keeping the pressure on, the Clippers pushed their lead to 15 after three, outscoring the Lakers 30-20 in a third quarter that has plagued the Lakers since the preseason began. Bryant had 23 points, Gasol 12 boards, but the team only 12 assists compared to LAC’s 21.
9:11 Bryant scored six straight points to get the Lakers back in the game, but with the shot clock expiring and the ball nearly at midcourt, former LAL Sixth Man of the Year Lamar Odom drained a 35-foot three. Another Bryant bucket then cut the lead to 87-77 Clippers, but stops weren’t coming readily enough. One area of concern, with Nash out and Howard in foul trouble, was that Bryant (31 points already) had to carry the offense all game just like he did last season. How much would he have left in his legs for crunch time in his 17th NBA season?
2:35 With a driving layup and two free throws that got Bryant to 40 points in 43 minutes, his shooting total through three games climbed to a very, very impressive 35 of 57 (61 percent). Yet the Lakers were 0-3. They failed to get the deficit any tighter than eight in the fourth, with Paul climbing to 18 points and 15 assists while running the show for the Clippers. The final: Clips 105, Lakers 95. Up next are the Pistons on Sunday; we’ll see you there.