The Los Angeles Lakers entered tonight’s game losers of their last three and were hoping the purple and gold court would propel them to a victory. However, their opponent coming into the arena was no stranger to the Staples Center, and was sitting atop the Pacific Division.
The Los Angeles Clippers and Lakers played round two of the battle of L.A., and although no Laker actually admitted it, it was a must win for the ‘home’ team.
The Clippers had a strong start to the game and forward Caron Butler scored the team’s first 11 points. Just two minutes after tip-off, Butler knocked in two three-pointers and gave the Clippers an early 11-2 run.
The Lakers’ offense was once again off to a slow start and had trouble finding ways to put the ball in the hole. Their jumpers were not falling, and to make matters worse, the Clippers were hitting on seemingly all of their shots. At the 8:20 mark of the opening period, the Clippers held a 13-4 lead.
The Lakers were making a better effort giving the ball inside to Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum, but their turnovers were hurting them dearly. Los Angeles had four quick giveaways, and as a result, the Clippers held a 19-9 advantage with 5:28 left in the first.
After the timeout, however, the Lakers went on a nice run and began to find more success in the paint with Gasol and Bynum. The Lakers’ front-court began to assert its dominance and, most importantly, they were nailing their three point shots. The Lakers came into the game as the worst three-point shooting team in the NBA, but with 2:29 remaining in the quarter, they already knocked down two. Kobe Bryant and Andrew Goudelock helped the Lakers from behind the arc and tied the game at 23.
Although the Lakers had a rough start to the first quarter, they ended it well and trailed by only two points, 27-25. The Lakers shot 55 percent from the field, and Pau Gasol led the way with nine points.
The Lakers went back to their old ways in the opening minutes of the second quarter, and with Kobe Bryant on the bench the offense hit a snag. The Lakers were opting with more isolation and did not have a player who was able to hit a shot with the clock winding down.
Metta World Peace was continuing to jack-up ill-advised threes and the Lakers suffered mightily. Although the Lakers faced only a 32-27 hole with 8:58 left in the half, momentum was starting to shift towards the Clippers. There was already a small scuffle on the court between the two teams, and it did not take long before some testiness broke out.
However, the Lakers rode the hot hands of Goudelock and Gasol. The rookie was hitting shots from deep and Gasol was far more assertive and had already scored 15 points, season average, at the mid-way point of the second quarter.
The Lakers continued to fight with the Clippers and stepped up their game on the defensive end. The Clippers no longer got open shots when they pleased, and while the Lakers shot 55 percent from the field, the Clippers were at 47 percent. What was once a double-digit lead was now just a 44-42 lead for the Clippers with 2:57 left in the half.
The Lakers ended the second quarter on a high note as Kobe Bryant found Derek Fisher for a corner three to bring the Lakers within two 51-49.
Through 24 minutes, the Lakers’ leading scorers were Gasol with 17 points and Goudelock with 10. As a team, the Lakers shot 53 percent and made four three-point shots.
Just like the beginning of the first half, the Clippers started off hot and took an early lead. The Lakers were not playing good defense, and as a result, the Clippers got easy points near the basket. What was just a two point deficit quickly turned into a 60-51 hole for the Lakers at the 9:42 mark of the period.
The game once again took a wrong turn when Metta World Peace and Blake Griffin were fighting for a lose ball. Although there was no major altercation it was clear that some bad blood was developing between both teams. At that point, the Lakers were on a 5-0 run thanks to some consecutive blocks, and with 7:31, Lakers were down just 60-56.
The Lakers eventually cut the lead down to one, but after Kobe Bryant picked up a technical foul, the Clippers went on their own little surge. The Clippers were hitting their shots on the low-block and the Lakers looked rattled after Bryant’s blunder. At the 2:35 mark of the third period, the Lakers were down 69-63.
Even though the Lakers had amassed 12 total turnovers, they faced a 71-68 deficit heading into the final 12 minutes. At the moment, Pau Gasol was leading the team with 20 points to go along with ten rebounds.
The Lakers were playing well to begin the final period despite the fact the Kobe was on the bench for a rest. Gasol was the center piece to the team’s offense at the time and he helped them with nice shots and good passing.
The game once again got on the hot side and this time the scuffle was between Reggie Evans and Josh McRoberts. Evans apparently got under McRoberts’ skin, and as a result the Laker was ejected out of the game. Still, the game remained fairly close as the Clippers held a mere 76-74 lead with 8:49 left.
Both teams were going back-and-forth and neither one was able to open up a big lead. Although the Lakers were turning the ball over at an alarming rate (16) they were never out of the game. The Clippers were committing fouls on their side of the ball and were over the penalty for the majority of the fourth quarter.
After battling back nearly all game, the Lakers reclaimed the lead after a Kobe Bryant three, but the Clippers answered back with a Chris Paul leaner. At that point, the Lakers were down 80-79 with 5:36 left in the match.
The game was close all the way to the end and players from both teams made big plays. Chris Paul and Blake Griffin did all they could to help the Clippers, but Metta World Peace was the hero for the Lakers in this game. Surprisingly, he was hitting his shots, but more importantly World Peace provided the team with energy and got the entire crowd fired up.
The Lakers rode the momentum to the very end and came up clutch in the most important moments. They were making shots and were stopping the Clippers on the other end of the court. With those two things combined, the Lakers beat the Clippers, 96-91, and snapped their three game losing streak.
Metta World Peace provided the Lakers with three points, seven assists, five rebounds, 38 minutes and an impressive +20 plus/minus. Pau Gasol, Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum added in 23, 24 and 19 points respectively in this divisional game. Off the bench, rookie Andrew Goudelock scored a career high 14 points and gave the Lakers great perimeter shooting.
The Lakers now stand at 11-8 and their next game will come on Saturday the 28th at Milwaukee at 5:30 p.m. EST.