LOS ANGELES, CA (News4usonline) – Sunday afternoon turned out to be not a good day at the office for the Los Angeles Clippers as they went into Round 3 of their season matchup against city rival Los Angeles Lakers. The Clippers won the first two meetings between the ballclubs this season.
The outcome of this game turned differently. After the initial few minutes of the ballgame, it was downhill for the Clippers, still holding on to a slim second-place standing in the NBA’s Western Conference behind the Lakers.
Outside of Paul George, Kawhi Leonard and Montrezl Harrell, Clippers head coach Doc Rivers got little else scoring-wise from his team as the Lakers walked into Staples Center and claimed a 112-103 road win. George led the Clippers with 31 points. Leonard followed up George’s effort with 27 points, and Harrell contributed 20.
These were the only players to score in double-figures for the Clippers, and that simply won’t get it done against the best team in the Western Conference. As a team, the Clippers shot 39 percent from the floor. That percentage dipped to 35 percent in the fourth quarter when the Lakers held the Clippers to just 22 points in the period. Rivers said after the game that credit goes to the Lakers for stepping up their defense.
“We struggled shooting but give them credit,” Rivers said. “I thought their defense was part of the reason. I didn’t think we had a lot of ball movement today offensively. I thought our offense let us down more than our defense. We made too many defensive mistakes to recover to win a close game, and Avery [Bradley] played phenomenal today. We messed up coverage at least five times. [Avery Bradley] had shots that he could roll and take a couple of dribbles before he shot it. I thought [Rajon] Rondo, that stretch in the beginning of the fourth when Kawhi [Leonard] was off the floor and also the stretch in the middle of the second when LeBron [James] was off the floor, I thought he was phenomenal for them. There were a lot of stretched in this game.”
While the Lakers (49-13) can take credit for smothering the Clippers (43-20) with their defensive effort, Rivers was not happy with the way his team played stuck-in-the-mud offense. The Lakers played a decent game when it comes to distributing the basketball and setting up other players for scoring opportunities with 22 assists overall in the game.
The Clippers, on the other hand, had a much more difficult time moving the basketball around. As a result, the Clippers finished the game with just 12 assists in the matinee contest.
“Ball movement. Again, you can always tell with the shooters,” Rivers said. “I just thought the ball stuck tonight for whatever reason. That does not happen very often with us and it hasn’t happened but it did today. In some ways, it is probably good for us to see. You have to keep trusting everything you do offensively, and I don’t think we did that well tonight. They clearly, to me, their spacing was better and they moved the ball better. I didn’t think we did that.”
Going one-on-one basketball showed up in the stat sheet in more than one way for the Clippers. Point guards Patrick Beverley (1) and Reggie Jackson (0) had one assist between them in over 30 minutes of game action. The lack of ball activity resulted in low-scoring production from Lou Williams (seven points) and Marcus Morris Sr. (1 point). As far as what went wrong offensively, Leonard thought his team was not completely in the flow of the game.
“We just really didn’t play with too much pace this afternoon,” Leonard said. “We kind of came into the game on our heels a little bit even though it really didn’t feel like we had a good rhythm out there. I think that pretty much carried over into the second half.”
The Lakers, behind the Anthony Davis (30 points) James (28 points), and Bradley (24 points) had their offensive flow going throughout the game. While the Lakers know they will get from Davis and James, Bradley gave the team an offensive boost with his unexpected scoring punch against the Clippers.
“He did everything spectacular,” James said. “We know what we are going to get from him defensively, but what he gave us offensively tonight was gigantic. Every time they made a run and we needed a shot to make, not only in the first quarter but the third as well, he got hot hitting threes. He had six of them, so he was wonderful.”