A three-game losing streak. A last-minute return of LeBron James. A removal from national television. Those three ingredients, mixed with a large dose of stagnant offense which was on display in recent losses, seemed to be a recipe for disaster for the Clippers approaching the 2021-22 campaign’s first Battle of LA showdown. However, they successfully fended off the Lakers in a clutch 119-115 win.
To start the game, Serge Ibaka was inserted in the lineup in place of Eric Bledsoe, possibly to match up with the rebounding capabilities of Anthony Davis and Dwight Howard. The strategy seemed to work in the Clippers’ favor as they ran out to an early lead, reaching 11 points in the second quarter, but the Lakers closed out the half strong to cut down the lead to just three.
A nice feature of the first half was the minutes reserved for Brandon Boston. He clocked in nearly seven minutes and hit just a pair of free throws, but it’s evident that his comfort at the NBA level is increasing at a rapid pace (don’t forget he scored 46 points in a recent G-League game). Marcus Morris also impressed in his time on the court, confidently shooting from beyond the arc which resulted in an and-one from the corner.
The Clippers offense continued to power their lead in the second half, a visible change from the past few games that they desperately needed. Perhaps Bledsoe’s placement on the second unit smoothed out the overall offense, or the frequent trips to the free-throw line boosted the point margin, but it was a pleasant sight to see for Clipper fans.
The game got much closer in the clutch as a proper Los Angeles showdown should, but Luke Kennard’s hot shooting from three kept the surging Lakers at bay. His two clutch jumpers from beyond the arc was followed by a last-second Morris three off the glass that seemed like more luck than skill. The offensive effort highlighted in this game shows promise for the Clippers, finally picking up a victory to avoid falling into too much of a rut.