It was like back-to-school night at my gym. After making the difficult decision to not head home after work to eat dinner and watch the Clippers play the Lakers in exchange for a workout, it was a close call getting on a treadmill with a perfect view of the game. Tough holiday season?
After finding the right machine with a good enough view of the game settled, it dawned on me that not only was it going to be work for the Clippers to grab their fifth straight home victory, its really going to be tremendous work to burn off those big December meals.
The Clippers remembered the season’s opening night loss at the hands of the Lakers, and came out with all their weapons working on super-drive. After a couple botched fast breaks by the Clippers, they really turned it on and turned out a great first half, out-rebounding the Lakers by nine, and out-shooting the Lakers (46% to 34%). The Clippers applied some great defensive pressure, and their major weak spot – turnovers – were kept to minimum at 5 (to the Lakers’ 4 turnovers).
The Lakers, playing without Pau Gasol, were dominated down low, getting outscored 54-34 in the paint. Take away the low post scores by Andrew Bynum (15 points, 14 rebounds) and the game plan the Clippers drew up was perfectly executed.
In the second half the Clippers, who led by as many as 15 points, almost let Kobe Bryant spoil their performance when he went off on a 13-point tear in the third quarter to close the gap. The Lakers then scored 6 in a row to start the 4th quarter, tying the game at 79.
Kobe did finish with 33 points, but on 10-30 shooting. He seemingly disappeared for long stretches during the game, possibly a testament to the possessed Clipper defense. When his game turned on in the 3rd quarter, it looked like things could get out of control.
But the clutch plays continued for the Clippers and they outscored the Lakers by five in the 4th quarter to win by nine points.
All the Clipper starters played their role and then some. Baron Davis played clutch basketball, and finished with 25 points and 10 assists. Chris Kaman kept his hot hand going, throwing in 21 points (14 rebounds), Marcus Camby took down 15 rebounds, Rasual Butler scored 14 and Eric Gordon logged 18 points. As a bonus, the Clippers got great bench play from Craig Smith (6-7 shooting) and a strong presence in the form of Rickey Davis.
Big kudos to coach Dunleavy. He countered Phil Jackson throughout the game, and kept his team poised for victory.
This was the first time the Clippers have beaten the Lakers since April 12, 2007.