Going in the big media story line was how desperately the Lakers needed a win. Not sure that ever made much sense, the Lakers were 10 and 8, the Clips were 9 and 5. I'm not sure I see a real big difference there. And now one is 11 and 8 and the other is 9 and 6. They both seem like good teams who haven't quite figured out who they really are.
In the second of two regular season meetings the two teams played a hard fought, contentious game. It seemed both of them wanted the win and there was the expected rough play and tough-talk we've come to expect. The Clippers led for three quarters by as many as ten points but the Lakers hung in and swept past their young Staple-mates in the fourth quarter behind the all-around play of Metta World Peace, a great, balanced game from Kobe Bryant, and tough inside noise from their twin towers, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum.
The box score. More notes after the break....
- Eleven days ago, Chris Paul scored 33 points, took over the game in the fourth quarter, and the Clippers beat the Lakers in a Clipper home game. But Paul also sprained a hamstring and sat out the intervening five games. Tonight, Paul showed a lot of rust, scoring only 4 points (though he did have twelve rebounds).
- Blake Griffin had one of his best, most balanced games, looking sharp with 26 points and nine rebounds. He was decisive and quick to shoot and went after the much longer Gasol and beefier Bynum.
- Caron Butler came out smoking. It says in my notes that he scored the Clips first eleven points... could that be true? Unfortunately he cooled off considerably, finishing with 16...
- The Clipper jump shooters were pretty woeful throughout. Chauncey Billups and Chris Paul were 3 for 16 and Mo Williams was 6-16.
- We finally saw the really scary, really good Kobe Bryant. Last time against the Clips he scored 42, shooting over triple teams, ignoring his teammates. This time he had a smoothly efficient 24 points on 17 shots with 7 rebounds and 6 assists. We actually saw him make slick entry passes into the post. No really, I'm not kidding. This is the Kobe that scares me to death.
- What's up with Derek Fisher? He stinks, he plays like a dead man, guys run by him, he throws up bricks, until there's a second on the game or the shot clock, then he takes a pass alone at the three point line and bombs in a three. I hate that guy.
- Pau Gasol is the slickest big man in the game. Several times in this game (especially in the first half) he looked like Tim Duncan in his prime. Of course then the Lakers forgot he was there for awhile, but....
- Andrew Bynum's a monster. I can't figure out why the combination of Bynum and Pau isn't BETTER than Dwight Howard. It's not, but I don't know why.
- Andrew Goudelock... really? 5 for 8 and fourteen points. No. Really.
- Metta World Peace was everywhere in the fourth quarter, but quick, how many points did he score? Answer: Three. He hit one three pointer but was a whopping plus 20! He locked up Blake Griffin and forced a jump ball (in the third?) Those two guys could play in the NFL. Those two guys would be big guys even in the NFL. Those two guys are really big guys.
- Vinny wore a conservative grey suit with a light blue shirt and a blue striped rep tie. Not flashy but very solid. His hair was, as always, a ten.
- If I see one more of those "Win Country" commercials, or that one about the "Wing man" I'm gonna vomit.
All in all, that was a disappointing Clipper loss... but it was also exactly what a Laker-Clipper game should be, tough, chippy, heavily contested. Both sides played hard. I can live with the loss, but... it's going to be really annoying to have to listen to my broken-record Laker-loving nephew the next few weeks.