LeBron and Lakers can’t shake the Clippers

(News4usonline) – After beating the Utah Jazz heading into the NBA All-Star break, the Los Angeles Lakers had some momentum at their backs going into the league’s mid-season break. The win against the Jazz was both welcomed and good news following the team’s three-game losing skid prior to playing Utah.

The Los Angeles Clippers snapped the Lakers back to reality in a game played Friday at Crypto.com Arena. Playing again without Anthony Davis, the Lakers went down 16 points to their hallway and city rival before storming back to take the lead and then losing it in a 105-102 defeat in a home game.

“If you look back at a couple games last week, the Utah game we were down, came back and we pulled that one out,” said Lakers forward Carmelo Anthony, who came off the bench to score 18 points. “Tonight, we were down, came back, had the lead and [Amir] Coffey made a free throw to put them up one and we wound up losing this game. It happens. It’s not something that I can pinpoint as far as why we lose the close games. On the other hand, sometimes we win the close games.”

The Clippers tore apart the Lakers’ defense in the second quarter for 33 points in building their double-digit lead on their way to a 57-47 halftime lead. The Lakers countered what the Clippers did in the second quarter with a big quarter of their own, erupting for 31 points in the third period to take a 78-72 advantage into the fourth quarter.

February 25, 2022. Los Angeles Lakers guard Russell Westbrook (0) drives hard to the basket. Westbrook scored 18 points in the Lakers' 105-102 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers at Crypto.om Arena
February 25, 2022. Los Angeles Lakers guard Russell Westbrook (0) drives hard to the basket. Westbrook scored 18 points in the Lakers’ 105-102 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers at Crypto.com Arena. Photo credit: Mark Hammond/News4usonline

The loss for the Lakers came down to what LeBron James was going to do. With his sidekick (Davis) out nursing another injury, the usually reliable James had a rare off-night, making just 6 of the 18 field goals he attempted. James finished the game with 21 points and 11 rebounds. A good effort, but not a LeBron-like performance.

And with James not having his shots fall from the field, including a last-attempt 3-pointer as the buzzer sounded, the Lakers absorbed another tough defeat. After losing to the Clippers, the Lakers are now 27-32 on the season, good enough for the No. 9 spot in the Western Conference standings. If the Lakers continue to lose games, they may play themselves right out of a postseason berth.

“I mean every game is important for us at this point,” said James. “It’s our last twenty-plus games, every game is important. For us to go down in the fashion that we went down, for us to continue. We went down in the Utah game as well. We have to see if we can scrap our way out of it. We definitely would like to play better basketball, to where we’re not building deficits like that early on.”

The Lakers wound up not being able to protect the lead they snatched from the Clippers. As hot as they were in the second quarter, the Clippers went old in the third quarter as the Lakers picked up their defense. In that third quarter, the Clippers scored 15 points and watched the Lakers blow past them in the process.

Photo February 25, 2022. Austin Reaves is a little late to stop this dunk attempt by Los Angeles Clippers center Ivica Zubac. (40). Photo credit: Mark Hammond/News4usonline

“They played offense, you know what I’m saying,” Clippers points guard Reggie Jackson said after the game. “I got a few friends on that team, I was taking care of them. Just throwing the ball here and there. Trying to build up a couple guys’ scoring averages. I told my teammates please forgive me. I’m just happy they did everything they could to come out with a win. Third-quarter is on me, honestly. Like I said, giving the ball away.”

The difference in the ballgame was bench play. Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue got 53 points from his reserves. Frank Vogel, the Lakers head coach could only get three players to contribute 41 points off the bench.

“I know Reggie [Jackson] got tired tonight and he struggled a little bit tonight offensively, so we wanted to put the ball in Amir’s [Coffey] hands and let him make some plays,” Lue said of his team’s bench play. “We ran some of our dribble-weak stuff, some of our horns-weak, let him get downhill to his left hand and like I said, he made great plays.

“That’s one thing we’ve learned with being shorthanded, that we can play through other guys. Playing through Zu [Ivica Zubac], playing through Amir, playing through Luke, Marcus, T-Mann, so whoever has it going that night, we try to ride that. Like I said, Amir was huge going down the stretch.”

Featured Image Caption: February 25, 2022. Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (6) heads to the basket for two of his 21 points against the Los Angeles Clippers in a 105-102 defeat at Crypto.com Arena. Photo credit: Mark Hammond/News4usonline