LOS ANGELES-You can’t fault the Los Angeles Clippers in keeping things interesting whenever they step out on the basketball court. Sunday against the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center was just the latest chapter in the Clippers’ 2016-2017 book of dramatic clashes and melodrama finishes.
In other words, the Clippers like to make things harder on themselves than they should. But like they’ve done most of the season, the Clippers used the top-tier play of their Fab Four to notch the team’s 47th win of the season.
Blake Griffin went for 36 points and eight rebounds. Chris Paul took command of the floor with his 29 points and 12 assists. DeAndre Jordan posted his usual double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds. And J.J. Redick kept up his sharpshooting ways with 19 points while making 50 percent of his shots from the field.
Yet here was the Lakers still hanging around late in the fourth quarter, trying to push the envelope to a possible climatic ending after outscoring the Clippers 38-22 in the final period. These days, with just 21 victories parked next to their name, all the Lakers have is hope.
That is neither here or there, and the Clippers, thanks to some timely shooting, managed to close out a 115-104 win against their city rivals. The win not only kept the Clippers locked in the fifth spot in the Western Conference, but also highlighted two milestones.
Griffin became the first player in a Clippers uniform to go for 10,000 points, and coach Doc Rivers recorded his 800th win during his longtime career. In getting to the game, there is no love lost.
The Clippers and Lakers have history between each other. If you’re part of Clipper Nation, that history hasn’t been too kind as the Lakers have racked up 145 wins against the Clippers in the 211 games they’ve gone at each on the court.
Recently, that history has been a bit kinder to the Clippers. The Clippers have won their last 10 home games against the Lakers.
While the Lakers have been looking to rebuild and reload their roster for the last couple of seasons just to be in the conversation of a being a competitive team, the Clippers have been in the right now business, as in get to the Western Conference Finals and NBA Finals now or in the very, very near horizon.
The Clippers had the Lakers on lock at the beginning of this game.
The Lakers looked like they were about to get heads and rear ends blown out of the Staples Center during the first few minutes of the opening quarter as the Clippers jumped out to a 17-0 slate. Timeout.
The Lakers responded. Whatever Lakers coach Lakers coach Luke Walton said he got his team’s undivided attention. All of a sudden, the Lakers picked up their defensive intensity, and before you know it, the Purple and Gold were within 19-18.
Just like that we have a ballgame. Redick’s long 3-point shot stopped the Clippers’ bleeding of giving up a 18-2 Lakers’ run that got them back in the game. What started off as a game that looked like it was going to be a laughter, wasn’t funny anymore.
At least for the Clippers. The Lakers are hoping to finish off the season competitive, but want to be in position to get a shot a NBA Draft lottery pick. For right now, the Clippers have more important things to concern themselves about, mainly the playoffs.
Like all the rest of the games played out from here on out before the postseason, the city rivalry contest between the two teams is just game the Clippers needed to put in the “W” column. After the Lakers took their first lead of the game at 32-31, thanks to a short jump shot by Corey Brewer, the Clippers went about trying re-assert themselves in the second period.
A Griffin 3-pointer gave the Clippers a 34-32 cushion that they increased to a 55-50 halftime advantage.
The Clippers came out firing in their third quarter, expanding their league to 14 points after two Paul free throws with just a shade under seven minutes to play in the third quarter. A driving layup from Luc Mbah A Moute and four more free throws from Paul padded that lead to 20.
By this time, it was evident that all that energy the Lakers used to try to catch up with the Clippers in the first quarter, was disappearing faster than H2o. After building on their big lead to 22, the third quarter ended with the Clippers taking a 93-72 advantage into the fourth period.
If there was a remote thought about any possible meltdown the way things went down against the Sacramento Kings on March 26, Rivers kept Griffin, Redick on the floor while Paul rested at the beginning of the fourth quarter. Paul was later re-inserted in the game to help put a lock on the Clippers win.