Playoff atmosphere in showdown with Lakers

BY foxsports • April 5, 2012

Prior to arriving at Staples Center Wednesday night, Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro new it wasn't going to be like a regular night.

Hosting the Lakers with potential playoff implications meant it was going to be a big-time game.

"This game is different," Del Negro said. "Maybe it's just me, but the energy in the building, walking into the building, the number of media here, and the feeling in the locker room, it's just different. That's great; it's what it's all about."

While the Lakers won 113-108, giving them the season series, Clippers forward Blake Griffin said the numbers might be lying.

"We're right there. The standings show it," Griffin said. "Us dropping two out of three doesn't tell the whole story."

And if the two teams stay close, it can blossom into a true rivalry.

"I think people talk about the rivalry, and I think we have to perform at a high level to create the rivalry," Del Negro said. "We're trying to make it a rivalry. I don't think it is now. We have to play well consistently and have to win ball games to make it a rivalry."

The Clippers have a quick turnaround, as they travel to Sacramento to face the Kings on Thursday.

NOTES, QUOTES
Williams return could present problem
   --The Clippers have won six of seven games with Mo Williams on the bench suffering from a bruised toe, and with Williams' return on the horizon the Clippers might have to disrupt their rotation.
   With Williams out, Randy Foye became the starter and flourished, Nick Young moved to the bench and became the second unit's primary scorer, and Eric Bledsoe has become the defensive spark off the bench.
   Coach Vinny Del Negro said he's not focused on adjusting the rotation as of yet, but when Williams comes back he'll have tough decisions to make.
   The most logical option would have Young moving to the three with the second unit, allowing Bledsoe to stay on the floor and cutting into Bobby Simmons' minutes.
   "We'll see when Mo comes back," Del Negro said. "We'll work through it."
   --The loss to the Lakers snapped a six-game winning streak for the Clippers. The last time the Clippers won seven games in a row was 1991.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "We sort of gave up everything." -- Clippers guard Chris Paul on his team's defense in a 113-108 loss to the Lakers Wednesday.

ROSTER REPORT
   PLAYER NOTES:
   --F Blake Griffin had a pair of thunderous dunks on Pau Gasol, but he didn't add much else offensively. Griffin scored 15 points on 16 shots from the field in the Clippers' loss to the Lakers Wednesday.
   --G Chris Paul continued to find his teammates, passing out 16 assists. Paul's had 10 or more assists in six of his last seven games.
   --F Caron Butler had his best offensive game in some time, scoring a team-leading 28 points. Butler hadn't scored 20 points in a game since Feb. 15.
   --C DeAndre Jordan grabbed 13 rebounds and blocked four shots against the Lakers. Jordan also scored 11 points in the Clippers' loss.

 MEDICAL WATCH:
   --G Chauncey Billups (left Achilles tendon) underwent surgery to repair his Achilles tendon. Billups is out for the remainder of the season.
   --G Mo Williams (left big toe) left a game early two weeks ago. Williams could return Saturday against Sacramento.



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