LOS ANGELES-The Los Angeles Lakers couldn’t find a way to beat the Los Angeles Clippers the first time the two teams met this season. Back then, the Clippers had their entire roster healthy when they handed the upstart Lakers a double-digit defeat at Staples Center.
Since then, the Clippers have lost their starting point guard Patrick Beverly for the season. Danilo Gallinari has been out of the lineup for a while, and there’s no telling when he’s coming back. Then there’s the case of Milos Teodosic, a man missing in action because of injuries as well.
When you add a nine-game losing streak to those maladies, it has been a rough patch for coach Doc Rivers and his Clippers this young NBA season. But the Clippers seem to have gotten over that period of where nothing was going right for them. And they know when all else fails, go to Lou.
The Lakers got this wake-up call from their former reserve as Lou Williams took his hot hand and melted his former teammates with a 42-point scoring outburst to lead the Clippers to a 120-115 win against the Purple and Gold on Monday night. The Lakers, with all that talent and hype, are now 0-2 against the Clippers this season.
But the bigger story as it turns out is not the incredible scoring display put on by Williams, but the MCL injury that forward Blake Griffin sustained on his left knee in the fourth quarter. It could have been worse. As it is, Griffin could be out as long as eight weeks. That’s not good news you want to hear about your $175 million investment.
With Griffin out possibly two months to heal, the Clippers have to keep the ship sailing without their leading scorer. That is no small task. Griffin was putting up over 23 points and nearly eight rebounds a game. Now it’s next man up for whoever that may be.
Even with a short-handed roster, the Clippers proved to the Lakers once again that they are still best team in the city. At least for now. Using his array of jump shots, floaters, even executing a rarity of dunking the basketball, Williams gave it to the Lakers every which way, going 12 of 21 from the floor in nearly 38 minutes of action and converting all his 14 free throws into makes to lead all players in scoring.
With the win, the Clippers have slowly begun to put that nasty taste in their mouths of that nine-game debacle behind them. The victory against the Lakers (8-12) make it three wins a row for the Clippers, who face Utah next at Staples Center. When the Clippers got Williams over the summer to shore up the lost of a departing Jamal Crawford, they knew they were getting an adept replacement for the longtime Clipper favorite.
It is safe to say that Williams is earning his keep now with the Clippers’ fan base. After playing for the Lakers and Houston last season, Williams was sent over to the Clippers, along with Beverly, when Chris Paul was traded to the Rockets. Williams have kept up his end of the bargain as he has fast become the Clippers’ leading playmaker with Teodosic, Gallinari and Beverly out.
In the process of destroying his former team, Williams took away the spotlight from Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball, who had a putrid night, scoring just three points and seven assists in 26 minutes as he continues to adjust to life in the NBA. Ball shot just 1-7 from the floor against the Clippers.
But the Lakers, led by Kentavious Caldwell-Pope’s 29 points, pushed the Clippers. Using a 33-26 scoring advantage in the fourth quarter, the Clippers (8-11) were able to come from behind to nip their hallway rivals.