LOS ANGELES — It was the third meeting between the Los Angeles Lakers and the L.A. Clippers. This time around, the Lakers couldn’t make it three straight against them as the Clippers made everything early on their way to a 127-116 win.
The first quarter was very close with the Lakers and Clippers running neck and neck. But I guess Russell Westbrook’s 3-point rating gets a +10 when he loses a shoe…
Westbrook followed that up with a three-point play and the Clips led, 35-29, entering the second quarter.
The Clippers broke away as they seemingly made everything in the second period (75 percent, really, but that’s still insane). Lakers couldn’t make any stops and they seemed to be fine trading buckets. The Clippers were all right with that. They led 16 at one point but the Lakers were able to whittle it down to a 77-64. The Clippers dropped 42 in the second.
We saw the Lakers get a few stops in the third quarter. D’Angelo Russell continued to be scorching as he scored the first 7 points for the Lakers in the third. Later on, Russell Westbrook would continue to give the Clippers bench a boost. While the Lakers were able to cut down the deficit even more, Amir Coffey made a big three-pointer to give the Clippers a 106-97 lead at the end of three.
The Lakers were able to get more defensive stops. Including this… block by D’Angelo Russell?!
D'Angelo Russell blocks James Harden pic.twitter.com/idjWvl6Xyi— Oh no he didn't (@ohnohedidnt24) January 24, 2024
The Lakers were only down two, 110-108. But Norman Powell made a three-pointer out of the timeout. The purple and gold had too many empty possessions, which led to a 9-0 run. Austin Reaves made a lay-up to cut it to 7 but Amir Coffey made another huge three to pretty much put the game away.
Lakers just didn’t have it defensively in the first half. Sure, the Lakers scored 64 but the Clips scored 77. That second quarter was their undoing; like I said, the Clippers dropped 42 on them in that period. The Clippers kept the pressure with their three-point shooting; remember that the Clippers were #1 in three-point percentage going into this game. 14 for 27 (.519) from three by the Clips. And while every three matters, the ones made by Amir Coffey proved to be huge (he made all three in this game).
And then the Lakers could not capitalize on their possessions in the fourth quarter. There’s kind of a reason why Jarred Vanderbilt is only there for “defensive possessions.” D’Angelo Russell stopped making shots. It enabled for the Clippers to build the lead back and the Lakers just ran out of gas.
When you have talent like the Clippers, it’s just more of a “pick your poison” thing. But when Kawhi Leonard makes his first 7 shots, James Harden is playing like a classic point guard, Paul George giving that presence on both ends, and Russell Westbrook bringing the boom, it’s just a lot to overcome. And then role players like Norman Powell and Coffey making big buckets? It’s even worse.
D’Angelo Russell scored 27 points and dished out a dollar’s worth of dimes (10 assists, if you don’t get it). Anthony Davis had 26 points and 12 rebounds. I’m going to guess the Lakers really missed LeBron James.
The Clippers were led by Kawhi Leonard, who had his second career triple-double (25-11-10). James Harden finished with 23 points and 10 assists. Then three players (Powell, Mann, George) scored 17. Westbrook ended with 16.
The Lakers are once again below .500. They have a home game against the Bulls before they go on a 6-game expedition. And let’s not forget that the trading deadline (February 8th) might make changes on the roster. But that’s not my department.
Anyway, let’s see how the next two weeks go.