Game #15
STAPLES Center | Los Angeles, CA
January 25, 2012 | 7:30 PM (PST)
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TEAM 1 2 3 4 FINAL
27 24 20 20 91
25 24 19 28 96

LOS ANGELES–The so-called battle for L.A. supremacy was there for the taking.

The Clippers led for the better part of 42 minutes, seemingly keeping the Lakers at bay despite hovering around 43% shooting for a majority of the night.

But when what Chris Paul called “winning time,” the final two minutes of the game, came around, the rough and tumble affair between city mates turned in the Lakers favor and they took advantage, pulling off a 96-91 win over the visiting Clippers.

“We didn’t execute down the stretch,” said Paul. “And that’s what we pride ourselves on. You know, the last two minutes, two and half minutes, that’s winning time.”

Paul returned to the court after missing five games with a strained left hamstring to tally 12 assists with no turnovers and four points in 26 minutes.

“We’re frustrated we lost, but it was good to get Chris out there,” Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro said. “We made them [the Lakers] earn it at the end.”

Power forward Blake Griffin scored a game-high 26 points, including an array of step-back jumpers, a soaring follow dunk, and a mystifying 180-degree spinning layup in traffic. Pau Gasol virtually matched Griffin’s production, however, scoring 23 points on 9-of-13 shooting and keeping the Lakers afloat early.

After the Clippers (9-6) led by as many as nine in the second half, the game tightened up. And when Kobe Bryant made a 3-pointer from the left wing with 6:26 left in the game, it gave the Lakers (11-8) their first lead since scoring the first basket of the game.

From that point the teams traded scores until Metta World Peace made a 3-pointer from straightaway following an offensive rebound by Bryant, who scored 24 points on 7-of-17 shooting with six assists and seven turnovers.

It was the second possession in the final four minutes where the Lakers capitalized on an offensive rebound. “We didn’t do a good job getting defensive rebounds,” Del Negro said.

More: Chris Paul Returns from Injury
Still, the Clippers answered. DeAndre Jordan (11 points, five rebounds) converted a 3-point play to cut the lead to 89-87 and with 51 seconds to go, the Clippers regained possession with a chance to tie or take the lead.

Paul dribbled past Bynum into the lane, but his layup attempt was blocked from behind. Bynum scored on the other end, effectively putting the game away.

“You have a Clipper team and they end up shooting 42.5% for the game and score 91 points,” Lakers coach Mike Brown said. “You’re doing something right as a unit on the defensive end of the floor, so it was good to see our guys get back to who we are.”

After the game, players from both sides continued to dismiss the idea that they are rivals, but the intensity and chippy play told a different story.

The teams were whistled for six technical fouls, making 11 total technical fouls in their two regular-season meetings. And the so-called “testiness” came to a head in the third quarter when World Peace wrestled Griffin to the floor on the sideline opposite the scorer’s table.

And later when Reggie Evans (seven rebounds in 16 minutes) and Josh McRoberts were called for double technicals and McRoberts was ejected seconds later for elbowing Evans as he attempted to gain post position.

“It’s always going to be like that,” Paul said of the physical play. “That’s how it is in this league, it’s a division game.”

Jordan concurred.

“It was high intensity tonight,” the Clippers center said. “Both teams wanted to come out there and get a win and make a statement. We’ll see them again, though.”


Jordan lost the tipoff to Bynum. It’s only the third time and first in 11 games that Jordan has failed to gain the opening possession for the Clippers… The Clippers lost for only the second time in seven games when they make eight or more 3-pointers and for the second time in nine games when Caron Butler secures five or more rebounds… Mo Williams scored 16 points off the bench, but it broke his streak of three games in a row with 25 points or more.


The Clippers lost for the ninth time in a row as the visiting team at Staples Center… Lakers rookie Andrew Goudelocke finished with a career-high 14 points… Solomon Jones played a season-high 16 minutes for the Clippers and grabbed seven rebounds… Butler scored the first 11 points of the game for the Clippers. He finished with 16 points on 6-of-11 shooting and 4-of-8 from 3-point range.

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