Lakers 113 - Clippers 108 - Close, But Not Enough

April 4, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers center Andrew Bynum (17) controls the ball against the Los Angeles Clippers during the first half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE

The "Battle of LA" did not disappoint. From "posters" to a down to the wire finish, both teams delivered on entertainment. Unfortunately for us, the Lakers came out the victors. Every game from here until the post season is important, but this game against our hallway rivals meant a lot to the Clippers. Not only did it determine the tie breaker, but instead of being half a game behind, the team is now two and a half games behind the Lakers in the Pacific. (box score)

Coming into this game with a six game winning streak I was pretty confident the Clippers would win, especially considering the dark cloud that has been surrounding the Lakers lately. However, ultimately the team could not deliver. Starting from the first quarter, the Lakers took advantage of the poor Clipper defense. Kobe came out and set the tone, hitting 7 out of 10 shots. He’s not going to do this every night, but when the guy is on, he’s practically unstoppable. Speaking of unstoppable; Andrew Bynum "chipped in" with 36 points. He was a nightmare of a matchup, no one on the Clippers had an answer for his offensive repertoire. Bynum pump faked DeAndre into oblivion, drop stepped him, made his jumpers and most importantly made his free throws (unlike our bigs).

At half time, Kobe was asked about the hot shooting to which he replied, "if they aren’t going to double team me, I’m going to take advantage of that." Thinking about that, I realized I barely saw any double teams. Kobe was abusing Foye all night long, ultimately the Clippers put Caron on Kobe, but it wasn’t enough. Speaking of double team, Bynum was played straight up the entire game. He is such a physical presence, once he catches the ball in the post, he needs to be double teamed immediately. DeAndre cannot guard Bynum in the post straight up. I’m going to go as far as saying no one in the west can guard Bynum in the post. The man needs to be double teamed.

It wasn’t all doom and gloom, the Clippers made a valiant effort in the fourth quarter. The second unit brought the Clippers within striking distance and the starters came in and took the lead, but ultimately the rally fell short and the Lakers were able to pull away.

We’ve long said that Caron was a key to this team’s success and he delivered tonight, scoring 28 points. Chris Paul had a solid game, scoring 22 points and more importantly handing out 16 assists. There was nothing really wrong with how they played offensively, it was the defense in the first half that caused their demise.

Aside from the first quarter, the team played well. It’s just that the Lakers played better. They look good when Ramon Sessions has the helm and this is a team I fear in the playoffs now. Pre-trade I would have loved to face the Lakers, now…not so much so. Despite that, even though I think they are dangerous, I hope both teams face each other in the playoffs. It would have felt better had the Clippers won, but the excitement level and intensity were through the roof tonight (who can forget how Blake posterized Gasol twice!).

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