Five observations: Stephenson, Clippers roll past Lakers

BY Jovan Buha • January 30, 2016

The Los Angeles Clippers defeated their hallway rivals, the Lakers, 105-93, on Friday to move to 31-16 overall this season, and 14-3 without All-Star power forward Blake Griffin.

Here are five takeaways from the game:

Sir Lancealot shows up

This might've been Lance Stephenson's best game as a Clipper. Heck, it might've been his best game since he left Indiana in 2014. Stephenson finally looked like the athletic, energetic point-forward the Clippers hoped they were acquiring this offseason. This was his most complete performance -- 16 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists and just 1 turnover.

His energy -- whether attacking the glass, hounding a defender or diving for a loose ball -- is infectious, and the Clips admitted as much post-game. He hadn't played double-digit minutes in over a month (last time was against the Lakers on Christmas, ironically), but if he can continue to play near this level, he'll earn his starting job back -- or at least consistent minutes.

The dunk heard round LA

DeAndre Jordan's dunk on Greg Monroe was supposed to be the Clippers' dunk of the year, but it might've been replaced by Stephenson's unexpected posterization of Lakers second-year forward Julius Randle:

What? Where has that been all season? Stephenson's ability to become a one-man wrecking crew in transition, and turn nothing into something, is what separates him from the rest of the Clippers' wings -- and makes him a vital piece if the Clips want to reach their ceiling.

Playing the stock market

Steals and blocks can be deceptive measures of defense. Players can purposely seek those stats out while taking the rest of possessions off, and sometimes steals and blocks have more to do with the competition -- and their inability to take care of the ball or take smart shots -- than the defense itself.

With that said, the Clippers had a combined 18 steals and blocks (or 18 stocks), which came from their activity in the passing lanes and by collapsing on the rim. The Lakers' have the second-worst offense in the league, almost Sixers-level, so it's not like the Clippers did this against the Warriors. But they forced the Lakers into 17 turnovers and, as a result, scored 28 fast-break points (compared to giving up just 10). That alone was the difference tonight. 

Getting it done

The Clippers couldn't connect from deep (8-of-26 on 3-pointers, 30.8 percent) on Friday night. J.J. Redick (2-of-10 shooting, 1-of-6 on 3s) struggled despite a bunch of open looks, but it didn't matter.

Chris Paul continued his takeover, posting 27 points and 7 assists. The bench was brilliant outscoring the Lakers' reserves by 31 points, 56-25. Stephenson went off. Austin Rivers found his groove in transition and around the rim, finishing with 17. And Jamal Crawford did Jamal Crawford things, tricking defenders into biting on his pump-fakes and hitting some ridiculous shots.

Again, it's the Lakers. But a win's a win, and the Clippers found ways to be effective and efficient (49.4 percent shooting overall) on an off-night from deep.

The rivalry that never was

The Clippers have now defeated the Lakers nine times in a row, and that says a lot about the current state of the "rivalry." Really, there has never been a rivalry between the two. They've never been good at the same time. The closest exceptions would be 2005-06 and 2011-12, but besides those two seasons, the games just haven't been very competitive. 

The Lakers fell off right as the Clippers rose, and the games are relatively boring nowadays. There will always be bad blood because of the shared building and covered-up banners, but that's about it ... at least for now.

Next up: The Clippers host the Chicago Bulls (26-19) on Sunday at 12:30p.



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