The Los Angeles Lakers saw the return of Larry Nance Jr. after he missed nearly four weeks with a broken left hand, but it was not enough in a 120-115 loss to the Clippers. The defeat was the Lakers’ fifth in a row to the Clippers, and 16th in their past 17 head-to-head meetings.
Pressed into the starting lineup because of injuries, Lou Williams led all scorers with a season-high 42 points. He added four rebounds and three assists in 38 minutes.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope helped the Lakers chip away at an early deficit by scoring 16 points on 6-of-10 shooting, connecting on four of five attempts from 3-point territory in the first quarter.
Caldwell-Pope’s 16 points were an individual single-quarter high for the Lakers this season. Caldwell-Pope finished with a season-high 29 points but cooled off as the Clippers mounted their comeback. He sat for most of the second quarter, during which time the Lakers’ bench provided a spark.
Jordan Clarkson’s offensive rebound and putback gave the Lakers their first lead with 10:38 remaining in the second quarter. That was part of a 15-4 run by the bench, which extended the Lakers’ lead to 45-38.
The Clippers cut into that, however, and only trailed by two points at halftime. Brandon Ingram scored eight of his 17 points in the third quarter before being removed due to foul trouble. That was a theme for the Lakers in the second half, but strong play from Clarkson, Josh Hart and Julius Randle made up for it.
The Lakers bench outscored the Clippers, 52-20. They were led by Clarkson’s 17 points, eight rebounds and five assists, and also received an efficient 15 points from Kyle Kuzma. He said Monday maintaining confidence gained as a starter would be key to sustaining success over into his returning to the bench.
Blake Griffin was second on the Clippers with 26 points, but he was removed late in the fourth quarter after Austin Rivers landed on his left leg.
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