The Los Angeles Lakers were embarrassed by the Los Angeles Clippers Tuesday night in a 133-109 blowout loss. It was like the freshmen versus the seniors, the varsity against the junior varsity. The score was only as close as it was because the Clippers starters hardly played in the second half and not at all in the fourth quarter, allowing the Lakers to score 69 second half points to make the final score a little more respectable.
The Lakers were sleep walking at the start the game and fell behind immediately by double digits. The deficit swelled to 25 points mid-way through the second quarter and by 30 points at halftime. The lead was as high as 34 points in the second half. The Clippers barely broke a sweat, as the Lakers put up virtually no resistance.
The Lakers were outhustled, outrebounded, and out-shot. The Clippers got to every loose ball and dominated the boards. They scored with ease. The Lakers were never in the game for a single moment. One would think they would instinctively play hard against their local rival, but inexplicably that is not the case with this Lakers team.
Here are three important takeaways from the game.
1. Luke Walton Benched the Entire First Unit to Start the Second Half
In the past month, Coach Luke Walton has become visually agitated with his team’s lack of energy and effort. He picked up another technical foul in the first half of this contest. At times he looked like he was going to explode.
Instead, Walton took out his frustration by benching the entire first unit to start the second half. In the third quarter, the Lakers started Tarik Black, Thomas Robinson, Corey Brewer, Davis Nwaba, and Tyler Ennis.
Robinson, who has all but disappeared from the rotation the past two months, took advantage of the opportunity and finished with 16 points on 7-8 from the field and six rebounds in only 10 minutes of playing time.
The Lakers starters returned and played a little better, but it was too little, too late.
2. The Defense Was, As Usual, Nonexistent
To say the Lakers were bad defensively from start to finish would be an understatement. The Clippers had 70 points at halftime and 133 for the game. They scored effortlessly from all spots on the court, connecting on 15 of 33 three point attempts (in comparison, the Lakers were 6-20).
In the first half, DeAndre Jordan scored on uncontested dunk after uncontested dunk and Chris Paul easily connected at will from outside.
Things were so bad for the Lakers that not only did Chris Paul hit a deep three to end the first half, Jamal Crawford connected on a high-arching half-court shot at the buzzer to end the third quarter as well. The Lakers displayed no resistance at the rim, and time and time again Clippers guards beat their man off the dribble to get an easy shot in the paint.
It does not look like anyone on the Lakers can play defense, with the possible exception of Larry Nance Jr. If these players can’t do it, radical changes will be necessary this summer.
3. The Final Statistics Were Misleading
Jordan Clarkson had perhaps his worst game of the season, playing 36 minutes and scoring only five points on 1-9 from the field and 0-4 from three-point range. He did have five assists, but it was a strange, quiet, off-night for Clarkson.
Otherwise, the other four starters finished the game with positive individual statistics. Brandon Ingram
led the team in scoring with 21 points on 8-14 from the field and 2-4 from three point range, but he was only 3-8 from the free throw line. Ivica Zubac also finished with solid stats, scoring 17 points on 8-14 shooting to go along with 7 rebounds and 3 assists.
Russell and Randle also did pretty well in the end, although most of their success came after the game
was long over. Russell scored 18 points on 7-15 from the field and 3-7 from three point range, plus he finished with 5 assists. It was a far-cry from his last game when he scored 40 points, but Russell still shot pretty well and was fairly aggressive.
Randle started very slowly but picked up his game in the second half and finished with 19 points on 7-13 shooting, seven rebounds and three assists.
On a night when your team allows the opponent to score 133 points it is futile to talk about anyone playing well. Still, if one is looking for any kind of silver lining, Russell, Randle, Ingram, Zubac and Robinson put up some decent offensive numbers.