A final all-LA NBA clash of the regular season turned out to be pretty underwhelming for the national TV broadcast, but the LA Clippers probably didn’t care, as they handily beat the Los Angeles Lakers 118-94 at Staples Center on Thursday.
The game was all Clippers essentially from midway through the 1st quarter, and the shorthanded Lakers didn’t have an answer to keep pace, with the Clips moving up to the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference with the victory.
Ty Lue opted for a starting five of Kawhi Leonard, Marcus Morris Sr., Ivica Zubac, Paul George and Reggie Jackson.
The opening minutes were herky-jerky for both sides, with both George and Leonard picking up early offensive fouls and both teams looking to find a rhythm.
But the Clippers soon found a rhythm from 3-point range, hitting five of their first seven shots from deep. The Clippers led 29-20 at the end of the 1st quarter, seemingly in control from the midpoint of the opening 12 minutes.
The Lakers were missing starters LeBron James and Dennis Schröder, and Anthony Davis suffered what appeared to be an ankle injury early when he stumbled over the sideline sign, and he was out of the game. It became downhill sledding for the Clippers from there.
Lue went with a reserve-heavy group in the 2nd quarter, and they came through, with DeMarcus Cousins in particular stepping up, grabbing 11 points in just six minutes of action and Rajon Rondo picking up four assists in less than nine minutes of play.
Halfway through the 2nd quarter, the Clippers went ahead by a full 20 points, which indicated how in control they were at that point. They finished the 1st half up 23, by a 65-42 lead, with the scoring load spread around and nine players getting a basket to that point.
It was more of the same in the 2nd half, with the Clippers staying roughly 20 points ahead throughout the 3rd quarter, the Lakers’ attempts to mount a legit comeback coming up short.
Paul George led the team in scoring with 24 points, but seven players in all tallied double digits in points for the Clippers. After they grabbed control early, it was essentially up to the Clippers to keep control in the game and put together a coherent performance while staying healthy.
The Clippers get a couple days off, before they host the resurgent New York Knicks on Sunday afternoon. With just a few games to go, time to tune up and gear up for the playoffs.