Lakers lose to Clippers in bid for 6th seed

Clippers sweep the season series against the Lakers and have beaten them in their last 11 games.

Well, the Lakers gave themselves a chance and gave it the Orange Cassidy try. But in the end, the Lakers succumbed to the Clippers, 125-118.

The Lakers did get their whole team back for this game. LeBron James and Anthony Davis played on Wednesday night. D’Angelo Russell returned after recovering from a sore foot. Mo Bamba was also back (although he didn’t play) as he was sidelined for weeks with a bad ankle.

But the weariness was evident. The Clippers had a lot more energy right from the start and the Lakers were in for an uphill climb. Clips got off to a 15-3 beginning.

The Lakers managed to cut down the deficit and even took the lead during the first. But the Clippers scored 7 unanswered and led, 37-31, at the end of the first.

The Clippers are still missing Paul George so Norman Powell took the helm and scored 9 quick points. They rained a bunch of threes on the Lakers and it was looking like their last match-up all over again. Kawhi Leonard and Russell Westbrook closed the quarter with an 8-0 run and the Clipper lead got heftier. It was 71-52, Steve Ballmer’s team.

They built the lead to 24 at the start of the third. But LeBron James took it upon himself to get the Lakers back into the game. He led a 19-3 run in a rare good third quarter showing for the Lake Show. They got the deficit down to 7 points but the Clippers inserted Powell back into the fray and the lead grew back to 11 by the end of three.

It was Bones Hyland’s turn to do damage as he sank three three-pointers in another Clippers run. We got some Lob City vibes as Powell threw to Kawhi Leonard for an alley-oop slam. The lead was back up to 20.

The Lakers still did their best to rally back but there just wasn’t enough time for them. A late Austin Reaves three made it a tad interesting as it got the deficit down to 122-114. Lakers play-by-play announcer Bill MacDonald was hoping that the team would do what Utah did to them on Tuesday night (come back from 10 down with 90 seconds left to force overtime) but it was not to be and the Clippers swept the season series against the Lakers. In fact, the Clippers have won 11 straight games against the Lakers.

It wasn’t great for the Lakers. They got down big and the fatigue had caught up to them as they had just played a game in Utah the night before. But I applaud them for not sitting LeBron James and Anthony Davis and not simply throwing the game away. They knew what was at stake and they took it seriously.

It’s not doom for the Lakers. If they win their next two games and the Warriors lose a game, the Lakers can still get the 6th seed and avoid the play-in. As it is, the Lakers should just think about winning against Phoenix on Friday and Utah on Sunday as they can only control what their team does.

The Clippers’ fast start held the Lakers at bay for pretty much the entire game. They were fresh after two days off and they took advantage of the situation. This is still a championship contending team should they get everybody healthy. But we’ll see what the next four days hold as there will still be a lot of moving parts in the mid-tier section of the West.

LeBron James scored 30 of his 33 points after the first half. Sometimes, I still don’t know he does it. The Clippers doubled Anthony Davis quite a bit; he ended with 17 points and 11 boards. Austin Reaves continues to be consistent; he scored 20 points.

Norman Powell was that guy for the Clippers. He led the team with 27 points. Kawhi Leonard was his standard fare; he put in 25 points. I must say, though, that I was a little surprised to see him play 42 minutes. Well, this is an important game, after all. Ivica Zubac was getting it done inside; he had 17 points and 13 rebounds. As for Russell Westbrook, it looked like revenge was on his mind early. He scored 10 of his 14 points in the first quarter.

Disappointing loss? Well, it’s not as disappointing as they played their stars to make sure they had a real shot at the 6th seed. They didn’t get it done on Wednesday night but the season’s not over.

Two games left to go for the Lakers. At the very least, we know that their season will be a bit longer than last year’s. It’ll also be interesting to see how the Phoenix Suns approach their game on Friday as they’re looking to be near-locks for the 4th seed.

But as I’ve said a million times, the Lakers should worry about their own business.

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