December 30, 2017, 2:42 am
The Lakers lost to the Clippers 121-106 on Friday night, making it 21 out of 23 wins for the Clippers in the heated in-stadium rivalry.
The Clippers controlled the game from the onset, sprinting out to a 9-0 run on their way to a commanding 24-7 advantage. Austin Rivers played a key role in the hot start making 4-of-4 shots for 10 points in the opening minutes of the game. The only negative on the night for the Clippers was that he would leave the game with what appeared to be a serious Achilles injury. He would need help off the court and left the stadium on crutches — an MRI is scheduled for Saturday.
Blake Griffin returned for the Clippers after missing 14 games and led them with 24 points, six rebounds, six assists, one steal and a plus-11 rating while playing 32 minutes. He was a little rusty from the field shooting 6-of-15 but was able to make up for it by earning 12 free throw attempts and sinking 11 of them.
He was joined in the frontcourt by DeAndre Jordan who continued his dominance over the Lakers by compiling 12 points, 16 rebounds, two blocks and a plus-14 rating. He shot 6-of-8 from the floor and committed only one turnover. He augmented his league lead in rebounds per game with his strong performance.
Lou Williams has enjoyed playing against the Lakers since they traded him last year to the Rockets for a first round draft pick (which eventually became Kyle Kuzma). He accrued 23 points, four assists, three rebounds and a plus-10 rating. He was not as efficient shooting from the field as he was during the last meeting between the teams making just 4-of-14 from the floor and 2-of-10 from 3-point range. Williams was able to get to the line at will converting 13-of-15 free throws.
Among the other impressive stat lines for the Clippers’ in this lopsided victory included Montrezl Harrell who had 15 points, nine rebounds and two blocks on 7-of-9 shooting in only 16 minutes and Milos Teodosic who accrued 11 points, seven assists, five rebounds and one steal. He may have to fill a larger role for the Clippers if Rivers’ injury proves to be serious.
The Lakers had a player meeting before the game to discuss some issues the team had with management regarding playing time and public discussions pertaining to future offseason moves — it didn’t work. The Lakers were blown out from the opening whistle and never really made this game competitive. The closest they got in the game was 62-55.
Coach Luke Walton inserted Julius Randle into the starting lineup for Andrew Bogut and Josh Hart for Jordan Clarkson. Randle fared fairly well statistically but had a very challenging matchup against the taller, longer and more vertical Jordan. Randle finished with 18 points, seven rebounds, two assists, one steal and one block on 8-of-16 shooting from the field. However he also accrued a minus-16 rating and made only 2-of-4 free throws. Still, it was a welcome sight to see him play 29 minutes and Laker fans would love to see what he can do if given a sustained opportunity in better matchups.
Hart on the other hand did not have a productive game as a starter with only two points, two assists, two rebounds, one steal and minus-15 rating.
Clarkson returned to his bench role where he excelled to the tune of 20 points, eight assists, five rebounds and a plus-1 rating on 9-of-16 shooting. He was joined by fellow bench player Larry Nance Jr. who added 16 points, four rebounds, four assists, two steals, one block and a minus-2 rating while shooting 6-of-7 from the floor and 4-of-5 from the line — all while playing only 18 minutes.
Kyle Kuzma and Brandon Ingram were among the Lakers’ starting lineup that was simply outperformed by the Clippers’ starters. Kuzma, who was questionable with a thigh bruise, contributed 13 points, five rebounds, two assists and a minus-9 rating but shot only 1-of-7 from 3-point range. Ingram amassed 18 points, three assists, one rebound, one steal, one block and a minus-18 rating while shooting 8-of-20 from the field, 0-of-2 from 3-point range and 2-of-2 from the line.
Key Stats and Observations
- The Lakers came into the game with little room for error and simply did not play a good game. The statistical comparison between the two teams paints a picture of domination that exceeded the 15-point margin of victory.
- The Clippers did not shoot well from downtown making only 9-of-32 shots for 28.1 percent. The Lakers, on the other hand, were simply atrocious as they made only 3-of-19 (15.8 percent).
- The Lakers came into this game with a significant rebounding edge over the Clippers for the season but that was not the case tonight as the Clippers outrebounded them 49-35.
- The Clippers also dominated the game at the free throw line making 28-of-34 (82.4 percent) vs. 11-of-16 (68.8 percent) for the Lakers.
- The Lakers were able to limit their turnovers, committing only 12 compared to 16 for the Clippers.
The Lakers (11-23) head to Houston to take on James Harden and the Rockets (25-9).
Houston has lost five games in a row and the Rockets will be looking to right their ship against the reeling Lakers. To make matters worse, Los Angeles will be without starting shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope who is unable to leave the state because of legal issues. He won’t be the only Laker missing in action as Brook Lopez is still out with an ankle injury and Lonzo Ball will miss the game as well due to a sprained shoulder.
The Rockets are led by Harden who is having an MVP caliber season with 32.5 points, 5.2 rebounds and 9.2 assists per game.