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LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS


-VS-


LOS ANGELES LAKERS


Game #73
Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA
Friday, March 25, 2011 - 7:30 PM (PST)


TEAM Qtr 1 Qtr 2 Qtr 3 Qtr 4 FINAL
LAC (28-45) 23 25 32 24 104
LAL (52-20) 33 24 28 27 112

CLIPPERS vs. LAKERS RECAP -- D.J. Foster

Despite hanging tough for most of the game, the Clippers eventually fell to the Lakers, 112-104. Here are five thoughts from the game:

One down, one up

Eric Gordon has put up a lot of performances to remember this season, but this one he’d rather you forget. With Ron Artest drenched all over him for most of the game, Gordon struggled to even step foot in the paint, let alone get a free inch of room out on the perimeter. Some stifling defense and an iron unkind held Gordon 0-for-11 and scoreless throughout three periods of play. Against an elite team like the Lakers, that should have been enough to bury the Clippers offensively. Luckily though, maybe because they have some practice at this sort of thing, the Clippers found contributions elsewhere. Stepping into the role of big time scorer was point guard Mo Williams, who hit 11-of-16 from the field to finish the game with a team-high 30 points. Williams looked great right from the opening tip, making it a priority to push the ball right up the Lakers’ backs off makes and misses, effectively getting his athletes into transition just about every time down the floor. Williams will pop out in the box score because of his gaudy scoring line, but he put his teammates in the right places more than his six assists might indicate. For as much as Gordon struggled, Williams shined.

Defending Kobe

The Lakers may not have had an answer for Williams, but the Clippers couldn’t quite solve Kobe Bryant, either. Bryant worked his patented back to the basket game, stringing together pump fakes and fancy footwork to carve out enough space to get his jumper off. Even though the Clippers’ perimeter defenders did well staying in front of him, Bryant simply had too much height to deal with. Multiple times Randy Foye or Eric Gordon would attempt to contest Bryant’s shots, but too often they ended up committing the cardinal sin of fouling a jump shooter. Bryant’s 37 points didn’t necessarily kill the Clippers, but the ease at which he got them did -- Bryant went 14-of-17 from the line, keeping the Lakers lead comfortable for the majority of the game.

Bench keeps them in it

With the starters struggling to defend the Lakers’ ultra-efficient offense, the bench stepped up and dominated in their time on the floor. Al-Farouq Aminu was particularly impressive, as the rookie stepped up his energy level to where it will need to be for him to start in the future. Aminu sliced to the basket off the ball, flew to the glass when shots went up, and looked to attack offensively and put his length to good use. With Aminu setting the tone energy wise, Craig Smith handled things offensively. On multiple possessions the Clippers singled out Smith on the block against super-sub Lamar Odom, and had success doing it. Smith’s 8 points in 8 minutes is just another in a long line of efficient performances off the bench. With Randy Foye contributing 12 points and 5 assists and DeAndre Jordan returning from pneumonia to pick up 4 blocks, the Clippers’ subs had an impact on the game on both ends of the floor, and outscored the Lakers’ bench 34-16.

Backbreaker

The Clippers aren’t the only team to struggle with the Lakers’ length – that’s a problem every team in the league faces. It says something that the Clippers were able to hang with the Lakers as long as they did, especially considering how rough of a night Gordon had, how well Ron Artest played, and how Bryant put up a big night without chucking up too many shots. The Lakers tend to wear you down though, and they came up with a backbreaking play to pretty much seal the deal down the stretch.

With the Lakers leading 108-104 with 35 seconds to play, Derek Fisher was put on the line for two free throws and a chance to increase the cushion. Fisher missed the first – a rare occurrence for an 84 percent shooter from the stripe. Missing the second was even more unlikely, but the Lakers’ length came into play at the biggest time possible. Andrew Bynum bullied his way to the front of the rim and got a little tip in, nullifying Fisher’s misses and increasing the lead to six. Although the lead was still just two possessions, the Clippers gave themselves no room for error following the huge put-back. “What I take from it is we got to do a better job on the fundamental part of the game,” Del Negro said. “The bottom line is fundamentally you’ve got to rebound the basketball. We got beat on the glass. Their length bothered us at times.”

Rivalry brewing?

The Clippers came down and missed, but Fisher took exception to a big screen set by Chris Kaman on the play. Fisher popped up from the ground and was sure to let Kaman hear about it, and the two got into a heated tussle reminiscent of the scrap between Blake Griffin (22 points, 6 rebounds) and Lamar Odom earlier in the season. Although the Lakers would go on to win the battle, 112-104, the Clippers made it clear that this matchup is going to be a war. For the first time in a long time, there’s some real bad blood between these two teams that goes beyond having to share the same city and building. Griffin and Kaman have sent messages that the Clippers are no longer to be taken for granted, that they can be competitive even when they don’t play the perfect game. The Lakers may have bigger fish to fry for now, but that may not be the case for long.

QUOTES

Del Negro
Vinny Del Negro

“They were at the free throw line the whole night it seemed like. Kobe was at the line the whole night. Our intensity in the third quarter defensively was better I thought, but they kept attacking the basket and we had some tough calls go against us. Then we turned it over a few too many times. But our guys fought, we had some opportunities there…”



Foye
Randy Foye

“Our energy and our intensity were good. Our bench played well. Some of our starting group struggled but our bench came in picked it up and that’s what a team’s supposed to do.


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