LOS ANGELES – The Clippers outlasted the Lakers in Los Angeles’ battle for the sixth seed to secure a 125-118 win – and avoid a spot in the play-in.
Even with a full roster, an opposing key scorer missing in Paul George and a big second half from LeBron James the Lakers only caught one lead in the game.
Russell Westbrook faced his former club for the first time after signing with the Clippers in February.
Westbrook finished his revenge game with 14 points on three rebounds, four assists and four forced turnovers before leaving the game in the third quarter. According to Clippers’ head coach Tyronn Lue, Westbrook was supposed to come back in the fourth, but the current group had such a large lead that he kept them in.
Norman Powell and Kawhi Leonard led the way for the Clippers with 27 and 25 points respectively. Wednesday’s game was the first time Kawhi played all 24 minutes of a half in a game since Game 7 of the 2013 NBA Finals.
When asked if this was his most important game against the Lakers he’s played in, Leonard simply answered, “I didn’t feel that way.”
Leonard went from 9-17 the field, 4-7 from downtown and added seven rebounds with four assists.
James, who usually averages 29 points per game for the Lakers, was limited to just three by the half. He exploded in the second half, though, and finished Wednesday’s game with 33 points, eight rebounds and seven assists.
The Clippers opened up the first half outscoring the Lakers in fast break points, 20-8. By halftime the Clippers had all the momentum, leading 71-52 and only collecting eight turnovers compared to the Lakers’ 11. From then on the Clippers’ fast pace outlasted the Lakers’ defense and led them to the 125-118 victory.
Now, the Lakers drop to 41-39 and have found themselves back in the play-in as the seventh seed in the Western Conference. Meanwhile, the Clippers advance to 42-38 and have found themselves tied with the Golden State Warriors as the fifth seed.
Next up, the Lakers will face the Suns Friday and the Jazz on Sunday for a two-game homestead to finish their season. The Clippers will move on to host the Portland Trail Blazers Saturday before heading to Phoenix to play against the Suns on Sunday in their final game of the season.