The Los Angeles Lakers got embarrassed on the road last night against the Los Angeles Clippers, but tonight they are back home and will get a chance to avenge last night’s loss. Kobe Bryant only has five more games remaining in his career and tonight is his second to last home game. The Lakers will go on the road to face the New Orleans Pelicans, Houston Rockets, and Oklahoma City Thunder before coming home for the season finale against the Utah Jazz.
The Clippers will rest Wesley Johnson, Jamal Crawford, and Austin Rivers will miss tonight’s game, but other than that they are at full strength. Jordan Clarkson suffered a bruised fibula last night, but is in the starting lineup tonight. Last night the Lakers did not give themselves a chance from the tip, so tonight they will look to keep the game competitive for a longer period of time.
The Lakers picked up two early fouls just 14 seconds into the game, sending Blake Griffin to the line, who made one of two. Kobe scored on the first possession of the game with a Dirk fadeaway to the delight of the Staples Center crowd. Midway through the first quarter, Kobe made a running hook shot in the lane plus the foul, and the Lakers led 15-11. The Clippers stormed back, but Kobe remained hot, hitting a three-pointer to give him 10 points in just the first quarter. Tarik Black entered the game and immediately scored on a nifty post move around DeAndre Jordan and the Lakers trailed 22-23. The Lakers looked a lot more energized tonight in the first quarter compared to last night, but they still trailed 25-29 at the end of one.
The Lakers offense was stagnant to begin the second quarter, as Marcelo Huertas over dribbled on a few occasions that resulted in low percentage shots. The Clippers did not take advantage, and only held onto a six point lead with nine minutes remaining in the half. Blake Griffin re-enteed the game with 7:39 to go and immediately made a jump shot to give him 13 points in the game. Kobe re-entered the game and got his shot blocked by DeAndre Jordan, but the Lakers ended up with the ball and Robert Sacre tied the game up at 38 apiece with five minutes remaining in the half. J.J. Redick finally started to heat up, nailing a long two followed by a pull up three in transition. Julius Randle only had four points, but he dominated the glass, grabbing 13 boards in the first half. The Clippers began to pull away at the end of the half, and the Lakers trailed 42-54 at halftime.
The Lakers started the half with a few turnovers, but Kobe got a steal of his own and lobbed it to Jordan Clarkson who finished the break with the alley-oop dunk. Kobe stayed aggressive on the offensive end and made a tough fadeaway from his favorite spot to give him 16 points in the game. The Lakers played with a lot of heart, but still trailed by 13 midway through the third quarter. DeAndre Jordan became frustrated after committing two off ball fouls and a technical foul, but the Lakers did not take advantage on the offensive end. With one minute left in the quarter, Clarkson showed signs of frustration after Black battled with him for the rebound and lost it out of bounds. Jeff Green fell to the ground after bumping knees with Tarik Black and he headed to the sideline under his own power. Green was diagnosed with a bruised knee and would not return to the game. The Lakers played evenly with the Clippers, but they still trailed 61-73 at the end of the third quarter.
The Clippers added five quick points to the lead in the first minute of the quarter, but Russell finally made a three-pointer to give him seven points in the game. The Lakers continued with their sloppy offense, but Larry Nance Jr. found his way to the basket on a broken possession to cut the Lakers deficit to 15 with 6:55 left in regulation. One minute later, Russell found himself at the free throw line and cut the Clippers’ lead down to 11 points with 5:15 left to play. Kobe Bryant checked back into the game and Staples Center went crazy. Pablo Prigioni made a floater in the lane to give the Clippers a 13 point lead with three minutes remaining in the game. Kobe started launching contested threes to the delight of the crowd, but he missed them badly. Kobe exited the game to a standing ovation, but lost in all of the Kobe mania, Julius Randle grabbed a career-high 20 rebounds.
Final Score: Lakers 81 Clippers 91