The Clippers took care of business against the undermanned Lakers, building an early lead and not letting their Staples Center roommates get within single digits for the entire second half in a 104-86 win Sunday. Marcus Morris Sr. was the star, taking it to his brother Markieff and leading the Clippers with 22 points.
We make a lot of jokes about the Clippers in afternoon games, and deservedly so, but there was no lull to start this one. The Clippers made their first six shots, evenly distributing them among all five starters, while the Lakers had more turnovers than field goals in the early going. If it weren’t for seven points from Markieff Morris — more than his per-game average this season — in the first four minutes while starting against his twin brother, this would have been over early.
But the Lakers stayed within contact, and the Clippers missed nine of their last 11 shots of the first as the lead dwindled to seven. The good news was that Rajon Rondo was able to make his Clippers debut and immediately brought some pace to the game (though it helped that he came in alongside Terance Mann). Perhaps it was due to an intimate knowledge of Lakers’ playbook, but Rondo had two steals in his first shift, though that was counterbalanced by three turnovers.
Still, he pushed the tempo and made some nice passes to get Kawhi Leonard in his comfortable spots.
Great pass from Rondo inside to Kawhi pic.twitter.com/jdRtU4cGxb— Shane Young (@YoungNBA) April 4, 2021
The Clippers didn’t have the same offensive fireworks in the second quarter, but Morris Sr. remained excellent to the tune of 17 first-half points to lead all scorers. The team’s defense was absolutely stifling as well, particularly when anyone tried to challenge Ivica Zubac in the paint. Zubac dominated his individual matchup with Montrezl Harrell and provided back-line defense when any perimeter players got to him. The Clippers limited the Lakers to 4-of-11 shooting at the rim, and combined with the road team’s routinely anemic 3-point shooting, that resulted in a 15-point lead for the Clippers at the half.
Morris Sr. once again led off the proceedings in the third quarter with a corner 3-pointer. It goaded the other Morris into trying to match him, which he couldn’t. Zubac scored on the next play, and one more Lakers turnover later, the Clippers were back up 20. They comfortably resided in that margin for the majority of the game.
Another thing the Clippers did well all game was turn the Lakers over. They forced 18 giveaways which led to 15 points. The home team’s transition defense was outstanding, limiting the Lakers to only eight fast-break points, an area where they normally excel.
The Clippers were expected to win this game given the personnel, and they did so convincingly. Good to bank this victory with a tough upcoming schedule.