- Benjamin Gerstel
Clippers lay the smackdown on flopping Lakers, 132-111
The Lakers are sitting 7 games under .500 facing some of the most turmoil out of any organization in the league. Aside from starting 30 different lineups, the Lakers have the second toughest remaining schedule in the league. Players are arguing with fans on sidelines, creating an unideal situation for all parties involved. A win for this team would be huge, as it would end a three game skid for the organization. As for their rivals, the Clippers, they have found their groove, despite missing their two biggest stars. Kawhi Leonard and Paul George have been out all season but somehow, they remain one seed ahead of the Lakers, who were preseason title contenders. LAC will look to extend their current winning streak to 5 games, while the Lakers will try to turn things around for themselves tonight.
In the first quarter, defense was an afterthought, as both teams combined for 67 points. It made for an exciting quarter of basketball, filled with tons of offense and a slam from the 37 year old Carmelo Anthony that lit up Staples Center. Austin Reaves had one of the best quarters of his young career, with two threes in the first, which are tied for the most threes he has hit in a quarter, in his career. LAC shot 5-6 in the first from downtown, and the rest of the Lakers shot 1-6 from beyond the arc. Two late threes from Amir Coffey, and one from Luke Kennard, gave the Clippers the momentum at the end of the first.
The Clippers stepped up their defense and locked down in the second. While Reggie Jackson and Robert Covington continued to pluck the ball from the Lakers, they also held the Lakers to less than half of their three-point percentage (LAL-33.3, LAC-75) through the second quarter. Jackson quarterbacked LAC’s offense, hit some big-time three point shots, and was finishing in transition. While Jackson was making high-arching swishes from another area code, the Lakers couldn’t buy a bucket. After a close first quarter, the Clippers lead grew as high as 14. Without their defense, and Zubac's dominance on the offensive glass, the Clippers wouldn’t have been leading at halftime.
As the Clippers defense stepped up on defense, the Lakers continued to play lazy on that side of the ball (like when they left Kennard wide open). Lazy defense has been a huge issue for them and the first half of this game will not help the Laker’s case. A late run ignited by an electric Westbrook alley oop from Reaves finally gave L.A. some momentum. LeBron added to the run with a ridiculously powerful and-one, and then Malik Monk capped it off with an epic windmill alley oop. The 15-0 run brought a Lakers team that seemed to be dead when they were down 17, within 3 points. The end of the second quarter was pure “Showtime” basketball, after they looked down and out for so long.
After an exuberant run to end the half, the Lakers couldn’t keep that momentum going. The Clippers opened up the second half, with their largest lead of the game. Their 20-point lead was fueled by an 8/9 performance from beyond the arch. The Clippers continued to prove why they have a top rated defense also, by holding the Lakers to just two points for a majority of the quarter. Vogel’s squad couldn’t muster up a basket in over five straight minutes of play. Marcus Morris stepped up in a big way for his team, scoring seven points after being irrelevant in the first half. That took some pressure off of Reggie Jackson, and game-leading statline. The third quarter was an absolute blowout, won by the Clippers, 40-18.
Reggie Jackson effectively iced the game, after he hit a step back three from another state. This came right after crossing up Russell Westbrook, with Schroder’s kick-step move. Jackson and Westbrook exchanged some words after, and then Jackson hit the shot over him, to the delight of the arena. Fans in the building reverberated with “Reggie” chants, as Jackson made his best effort to embarrass the Lakers. He drained the three over Westbrook after talking smack and then followed up as he finished in the lane on the next possession. Jackson shut down the arena, with his game-leading 36 points, 9 assists, and 8 rebounds.
Zubac, Kennard, and Hartenstein all conspired in the blowout offensively, while Covington held it down on the other end. As for the Lakers, they couldn’t deliver consistent effort on defense, which led to one of their worst performances of the season. Getting smacked by your cross-town rivals, 132- 111 is an embarrassing way to lose. Things continue to get worse for the Lakers, as they lose four in a row, and their 12th of the last 16. Meanwhile, the Clippers move on to their seventh straight, after winning the Battle for Los Angeles.