The Los Angeles Lakers were hoping to build some momentum coming out of the All-Star break but instead lost to the Los Angeles Clippers, 105-102.
Dwight Howard drew the start at center and was active in the paint early as he corralled three rebounds, with one going for an offensive putback. Russell Westbrook also picked up where he left off before the All-Star break, nailing a pair of jumpers and getting all the way to the cup to give the Lakers a 14-12 lead.
Howard dominated the Clippers on the offensive glass, having his way with their undersized frontcourt, but a Luke Kennard 3-pointer put the Lakers down two. LeBron James was able to get to the free-throw line in the final minute, but the Lakers trailed 24-22 after one with the main reason being they were 0-for-10 from three.
James finally snapped the Lakers’ cold streak from the field, drilling a corner three to begin the second quarter. Despite the boost from Howard around the rim, the Clippers executed well on the offensive end to up their to 11.
Things started to get out of hand for the Lakers, who failed to find many openings against the Clippers’ stingy defense, but James did get a three to go to stop the bleeding. Carmelo Anthony splashed home his first three of the night on a bank shot and a James layup limited the damage to a 57-47 halftime deficit thanks to a nice close to the quarter.
The Lakers came out with better energy to start the third and it translated into mini-run to get them back within single digits. Austin Reaves drew applause from the crowd after blocking Reggie Jackson, and a Westbrook jumper in the lane forced a Clippers timeout.
Transition defense was an issue for the Lakers as Terrence Mann zoomed past them for easy buckets, but Malik Monk and Talen Horton-Tucker and-ones brought them within one. The Lakers then extended their run thanks to improved play on both ends and Horton-Tucker punctuated things with a flush in transition to put them up 78-72 going into the fourth.
The Lakers were able to get into the bonus early in the period, with James taking advantage by knocking down a pair of free throws. The two teams juggled the lead as they traded baskets with Amir Coffey and Horton-Tucker carrying their respective offenses.
Anthony kept the Lakers ahead by burying timely threes, but the Clippers answered each time down to keep it a one-possession game. The final minute was marred by lengthy reviews, but Anthony and James missed heaves from beyond the arc and the Lakers would suffer a brutal loss.
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