Los Angeles Clippers: Danilo Gallinari, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Landry Shamet, Garrett Temple, Ivica Zubac
Los Angeles Lakers: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Alex Caruso, JaVale McGee, Rajon Rondo, Moritz Wagner
WHAT JUST HAPPENED?
The Clippers were outplayed for all but a few minutes of Friday’s contest against the Lakers, losing their second game in a row 122-117.
The Clippers did not look like a playoff team right from opening tip-off. They lacked energy on defense and gave the Lakers oodles of room to work in the lane. The purple and gold outscored the Clippers 22-10 in the paint and shot 50 percent from the field.
The Clippers also struggled offensively, going 3-10 from distance and failing to exploit the Lakers inexperience by taking the ball to the hole. They shot just 44 percent from the field in the quarter.
The Lakers simply played harder. The Clippers ended the quarter down by five, 35-30.
Danilo Gallinari was best for the Clippers with 8 points, 1 rebound and 2 assists. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander added 6 points, 2 rebounds and 1 steal.
Alex Caruso – who looks deceivingly more like an accountant than a baller – had 9 points, 3 rebounds and 2 assists for the Lakers in the frame.
The second quarter was much of the same, although there was this shining moment for Jerome Robinson:
It was reportedly JRob’s first dunk in the NBA. Unfortunately the rest of his game was not worthy of any highlight reel.
At about the four minute mark, the Clippers showed some signs of life, powered by slightly better team defense and timely offensive contributions from Garrett Temple and Lou Williams. Lou had 10 points in the second quarter, while Temple connected for 9 off 3 three-pointers.
In the quarter the Clippers as a team improved their shooting to 58 percent while the Lakers fell to 33 percent. The half concluded with the Clippers up 67-61.
NOTABLE HALF-TIME STATS:
Danilo Gallinari: 14 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals and 1 block.
Garrett Temple: 13 points, 2 rebounds
Lou Williams: 13 points, 1 rebound, 4 assists
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander: 10 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal
Caruso was best for the Lakers, logging 15 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists. Magee contributed 12 points, 5 rebounds and 2 blocks.
It was a close half throughout, with 11 lead changes and 11 ties. Not quite the fight the Clippers were expecting.
The third quarter consisted of an exchange of runs, with the Clippers runs associated with starter play. The bench was horrible tonight; they simply were not getting things done. The Lakers stayed close, and at the end of three the Clippers were clinging to a two point lead 86-84.
Danilo Gallinari: 18 points, 6 rebounds, 7 assists, 3 steals, 2 blocks
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander: 14 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, 1 block
Garrett Temple: 14 points, 6 rebs, 1 assist
Lou Williams: 13 points, 6 assists
Alex Caruso: 19 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals
Rajon Rondo decided to start making buckets in the fourth, hitting two threes and a layup to give the Lakers a three point lead with eight minutes remaining. A Magee dunk on a subsequent play prompted a time out from Doc, his jaw on the floor.
The Lakers - who are NOT a three-point shooting team - then went on a shooting spree, with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Caruso both hitting from behind the arc. As a team the Lakers hit 8 from long in the quarter.
Clippers trailed by 10 with around four minutes left in regulation. A three pointer by Gallo and dunk from Montrezl cut the lead to 5.
It was the Alex Caruso show, however. The 2-way player was playing with such high confidence he was impossible to stop. Key buckets down the stretch (he had 13 in the fourth) sounded the death knell for the underplaying Clippers.
NOTABLE END OF GAME STATS:
- Danilo Gallinari: 27 points, 6 rebounds, 8 assists, 3 steals, 2 blocks
- Shai Gilgeous-Alexander: 20 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists
- Alex Caruso: 32 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists
- Kentavious Caldwell-Pope: 25 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists
TAKEAWAYS & TIDBITS:
Patrick Beverley is ESSENTIAL to this Team: The Clippers are just not the same team without Beverley in the rotation. Energy was lacking. The fight was not there. There was no team leader on the floor.
Defense was AWFUL: The Clippers did not look like a team that has been playing together for weeks. In fact, they looked far less cohesive than the patchwork team they were up against. Communication was poor, Effort was worse.
Gallinari and Shai continue to play well: Shai and Gallo continued their high level of play. Both scored 20+ points and Gallo had a season-high 8 assists. Unfortunately no one stepped up to help try and win this game. Where was Shamet? Zubac?
What this means for the playoffs: The Clippers should have, and were expected to, win this game. So what does the unexpected loss mean for the playoff picture? Well, things are still very much up in the air. The Denver Nuggets beat the Portland Trail Blazers tonight and are still battling with the Golden State Warriors for the first seed. The Clippers and Oklahoma City Thunder are currently tied (with the Clippers having advantage in the event of a tie-breaker), but if they lose one of their final two games (Warriors; Utah Jazz), 6th place will be out of reach. In the 7th seed, the Clippers will likely face the Nuggets or Rockets, neither of which is an ideal scenario.
The Clippers visit the Golden State Warriors on Sunday April 7 at 5:30 p.m.