The Clippers were led by Lou Williams (42 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists), and Blake Griffin (26 points, 11 rebounds and 6 assists). Austin Rivers also contributed meaningfully, chipping in 19 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had the hot hand for the Lakers. He finished with 29 points, 6 rebounds and 3 steals.
The Clippers win was overshadowed by an injury sustained by Griffin late in the fourth quarter. The All-Star power forward landed awkwardly and appeared to twist his knee during a collision with falling teammate Austin Rivers.
No official word yet on the severity of Blake Griffin’s knee injury, but - um - the video does not look good. pic.twitter.com/sUTHGml3do— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) November 28, 2017
The Clippers called a time out so Griffin could exit the game. He retreated to the locker room and did not return.
Immediately after the game the Clippers told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski that it was "too early to tell" the severity of Griffin’s injury. That message was reiterated by Doc Rivers in post-game interviews. Griffin will reportedly be evaluated on Tuesday.
Perhaps a good sign, Sports Illustrated’s Ben Golliver reported that Griffin exited Staples Center walking on his own, without crutches or a brace.
Clippers’ Blake Griffin (left knee) exited arena walking under his own power, no crutches or brace. Didn’t take questions from media.— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) November 28, 2017
Griffin scored 26 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and dished out six assists in 36 minutes before exiting Monday’s contest. He was, by all accounts, playing at an MVP-level.
Heading into Monday’s match-up, Griffin was averaging 23.4 points, 7.7 rebounds and five assists in 35.8 minutes a night. If he is out for any stretch of the season due to this knee injury, it will mean big trouble for the Clippers, who are already struggling without three of their five starters.
LOU WILLIAMS SCORES A SEASON HIGH 42 POINTS
Williams was easily the player of the game in this battle for Los Angeles. The Lakers had no one who could slow him down defensively.
William scored a season high 42 points on 12-for-21 shooting and was a perfect 14 for 14 from the free throw line. No matter the defensive look the Lakers provided, he was able to score without hesitation.
(In case you missed that dunk 36 seconds into the video above, here it is again. Williams’ first dunk as a Clipper.)
Williams was particularly good down the stretch, hitting a driving layup with 32 seconds left in regulation to give the Clippers a 118-115 lead, then connecting on two free throws to make it 120-115 with just over 11 seconds to go after Laker Brandon Ingram missed a 3-pointer that would have tied the game.
DEFENSE STILL A CONCERN
Once again, the Clippers’ defensive efforts were inconsistent. Throughout the game they looked sluggish. Rotations were slow, and the young Lakers were finding it easy to beat them to the basket. The Lakers also out-hustled the Clippers at nearly every turn. The Lakers had 10 offensive rebounds and 11 more shot attempts than the Clippers at the half, and snatched up almost every 50-50 ball. Were the Clippers still fatigued from their road trip? Maybe. But the Lakers just seemed to want it more.
Ultimately, and luckily, the Clippers had more fight and more maturity, and were able to pull off the win. The Clippers may have been helped by head-scratching substitutions late in the game by Lakers’ coach Luke Walton. (Kyle Kuzma and Julius Randall on the bench? Really?) The Lakers led by as many as 8 in the final quarter prior to the Clippers making their successful last push.
FINAL THOUGHT: I CAN’T QUIT AUSTIN RIVERS
Finally, I have to get this off my chest, as I know many of you feel the same way. Monday night’s game illustrated everything I both love and hate about Austin Rivers. He dribbles excessively, relies on isolation moves too often, and his irrational confidence often backfires. He had some absolutely disastrous possessions against the Lakers. However, Rivers is more often than not the player that comes up with the big hustle play, or the fantastic and-1 finish to keep the Clippers in games they are at risk of letting slip away. The Lakers’ game was no exception. Love him or hate him, it’s hard to deny that Rivers is a valuable and integral part of this year’s squad, and necessary to their success this season. I would not go so far as to call him clutch, but he is, at this point, clutch-adjacent. #TeamAustin
NEXT UP: The Clippers host the Utah Jazz on Thursday, November 30, 2017 at Staples Center. Tip off is at 7:30 PM PT.