5 things: Clippers crush Lakers for third straight game
LOS ANGELES — Fans in attendance of Sunday afternoon’s Clippers-Lakers game expecting another historic blowout were certainly disappointed.
They had to settle for a 120-97 Clipper drubbing instead, a 25-point drop-off from the last time the hallway rivals met exactly one month ago.
Despite shooting over 60 percent and dominating the glass, the Clippers turned the ball over 12 times in the first half and allowed a motivated Lakers squad to keep the game within single digits. As shades of their opening night loss began to creep in, the Clippers cleaned up their sloppy ball-handling and stretched the lead to 20-plus in the second half.
"Other than the (turnovers), I liked the way we were playing," coach Doc Rivers said. "We were trying to do too much with the ball as a group. I think in the third quarter we had two turnovers and all of the sudden we had a bigger lead. I don’t think that was a coincidence."
For those keeping track at home, the victory marks the second consecutive season the Clips have won the season series with the purple and gold.
Blake Griffin and Chris Paul led all scorers with 23 points apiece, and DeAndre Jordan chipped in a double-double (11 points, 12 rebounds) and four blocks.
Here are five takeaways from the game:
The Clippers have played inconsistently in early Sunday afternoon games in the CP3 era, and the trend continued in another lackluster first-half performance. In the previous two meetings — both Clipper blowouts — the Clips got off to fast starts, leading by at least 18 points at halftime. This contest was more of a struggle. The undermanned Lakers hung around and trailed by only eight points at intermission, before the Clippers eventually blew the game open midway through the third.
Defending the arc
The Lakers have defeated several elite teams this season by getting hot from the 3-point line. As such, the Clippers made it a point of emphasis to limit the Lakers’ open looks, running them off the line altogether or forcing them into contested, low-percentage looks. Overall, the Lakers shot 7-of-31 shooting (22.6 percent) from deep and never established the type of rhythm required to hang with the Clippers.
Shedding his rust
J.J. Redick was inserted back into the starting lineup and returned to his pre-injury production. He ran along the baseline effectively, curled off pindowns into open jumpers and moved the ball if he wasn’t open. "He’s getting better. I think each time he plays it’s good," Rivers said. He finished with 15 points on 7-of-11 shooting. The Clippers’ offense — currently ranked 2nd in offensive efficiency — is just a different beast with Redick on the floor.
Better late than never
It took 77 games, but the Clippers’ ideal postseason starting lineup of Jordan, Griffin, Matt Barnes, Redick and Paul made its debut. In 14 minutes together, the lineup outscored the Lakers by 16 points, 42-26. Each starter scored at least nine points and shot 50 percent or better. With Paul and Griffin running the offense, Barnes and Redick spotting up and wreaking havoc off the ball, and Jordan cleaning up the glass, the lineup provides optimal spacing and balance.
Putting the past behind them
Ever since their embarrassing opening night loss, the Clippers have openly talked about seeking revenge on their inner-city neighbors. After the game there was no mention of that mentality, though. The Clippers are sharpening their focus for the upcoming playoffs and aren’t concerned with the Battle of L.A. "I wouldn’t say it means any more or any less," Griffin said about winning the season series. "It is a special game with them being right down the hallway, but it doesn’t really do much for us."