This game was rough from the very beginning. Neither team could find any rhythm on offense, and the fouls piles up quickly. Boban Marjanovic’s presence disturbed the Lakers’ shots at the rim, but he also slowed the Clippers on offense, and seemed to get in the way of their own system. The Clippers, a step slow, fouled too frequently, and gave the Lakers a bunch of free throws. Fortunately, the Lakers bricked most of them, but the Clippers were unable to take real advantage due to their own stagnant offense.
The second quarter didn’t start well. Both Montrezl Harrell and Mike Scott picked up 3 fouls apiece trying to defend the paint, quickly putting the Lakers in the bonus. Danilo Gallinari was able to keep the Clippers ahead, with a little help from Lou Williams. However, as soon as Lou checked out for Bradley, the Clippers’ offense slowed, and the Lakers closed the gap. When Shai picked up his 3rd foul, and Beverley joined Bradley in the backcourt, the offense really died, and the Lakers continued to march to the line. Lou and Mike Scott came back in, and with additional spacing, Gallo was able to score a couple buckets to put the Clippers back ahead. The Lakers, however, answered, and were able to get a six point lead before Lou hit a three at the buzzer.
The Lakers went on a 5-0 run to start the period, and Doc, furious, took a timeout. Out of the timeout, Boban was gone, switched with Marcin Gortat, and the team immediately looked better offensively. Shai in particular was able to get going a bit, scoring seven points over a stretch of a few minutes to keep the Clippers in it. Still, even with improved defense, the Clippers couldn’t regain the lead due to careless turnovers and missed open shots. All that changed when Lou Williams checked in. The Clippers began to score almost at will, with the Lakers only staying ahead due to free throws and a couple Kyle Kuzma makes. Then Doc went deep into his bag and pulled out a new lineup, going with Lou-Beverley-Bradley-Sindarius-Trez, and then putting Ty in for Bradley. These formations swarmed the Lakers on defense, forcing missed shots and turnovers, and then getting out in transition. The Clippers were able to nurse a two point lead going into the 4th quarter.
The momentum continued in the Clippers’ direction, as they jumped the Lakers to start the final period. Lou Williams scored time and again, while the rest of the Clippers got steals, dived for loose balls, and rebounded against the larger Lakers. The Clippers’ run stretched to 22-0 after a drive by Thornwell, and they were able to build a 15 point lead. The Clippers then began to get a bit sloppy, as the Lakers pushed back with some aggressive drives and open threes. The game shifted again when Tobias Harris scored on the baseline over Josh Hart. Hart thought Harris pushed off, and got two technical in protest, while Luke Walton got one as well. Gallinari made all three free throws, putting the Clippers up 16. The technical seemed to inflame the Lakers, who made yet another push. Fortunately for the Clippers, Lou Williams was having none of it, and his three-point shot over Lance Stephenson (followed by his playing the air guitar, Lance’s own celebration) essentially daggered the Lakers with over 2 minutes to go. The Clippers held on to win, 118-107, in a very nice victory.
- Lou Williams is a destroyer of worlds: The Clippers were flat and out of synch on offense tonight from just about start to finish. Ball movement was non-existent, spacing was bad, and open shots were missed. Into that hellhole stepped Lou Williams, and his offensive abilities single-handedly carried the Clippers to a win tonight. He got wherever he wanted on the court, and made all manner of shots. Hedge out hard on the pick and roll, and he would dart into the lane. Drop back, and he would drain three-pointers. Try to shade him one direction, and he would make his little running jumpers. He could not be stopped, and answered every single run that the Lakers made in the 4th quarter. Just a virtuoso performance by Sweet Lou, who has been more of a distributor for much of the season, but has turned on the scoring juice of late. This game was yet another reminder that Lou is truly one of the most dangerous scorers on the planet.
- Boban experiment failed: While Boban started both halves, he only played 13 minutes, and Doc’s decision to yank the plug so quickly in the 3rd quarter swung the game. Boban just couldn’t get going, unable to find space on offense or hang with the Lakers on defense. He actually seemed to clog up the lane for the Clippers, and the starters just did not seem to be able to run their usual offense with him on the floor. Marcin Gortat played only 8 minutes, but they were massive in changing the game, as he helped bolster the defense and got the offense into gear with five assists. While Gortat is sometimes ineffective, he’s usually not as big a negative as Boban is on the nights he doesn’t have an ideal matchup, and should probably start for the foreseeable future.
- Doc goes to Ty and Thornwell again, and it pays off: The Kings game was almost a disaster thanks to a lineup that had Ty Wallace and Sindarius Thornwell together on the wings, as they provided no shooting and the offense fell apart. In this one, Doc put Thornwell at the four instead of Mike Scott, while Ty played alongside Pat Beverley and Lou in a three-guard set. Neither Ty nor Sindarius lit up the stat sheet, but both played extremely well. They were aggressive defensively, pressuring the Lakers into rushed shots and turnovers, and pushing the pace the other way. They also rebounded the ball, as undersized as they were, and kept the Lakers from getting second chance opportunities. Sometimes the spacing got a bit clogged, but their energy and defense were outstanding, and the Clippers wouldn’t have this win without them. It was a brilliant decision by Doc to go with the lineup he did, and Ty and Sindarius rewarded him for his choice.
- Rough night for the starters: The only starter who had a good game for the Clippers was Danilo Gallinari, who kept the Clippers afloat offensively in the first half and had a big three late in the 4th quarter. Shai had a nice burst in the 3rd period, but was quiet otherwise, while Bradley mostly played acceptably, but clanked all five of his open threes. Tobias Harris had one of his worst games as a Clipper, as he was unable to get open, and forced shots rather than moving the ball. Still, the Clippers were able to overcome the collective poor play, so no harm, no foul.
The Clippers have no time for celebration, as they will take on the Spurs tomorrow here at Staples Center. Check back in for the preview in the morning.