THE FACTS: Chris Paul showed the Lakers what they've been missing. On Friday night, Paul, who was traded to the Clippers a little over a year ago after the NBA nixed a deal that would have sent him to the Lakers, scored a season-high 30 points. That included his team's final eight points, along with 13 assists and six rebounds, lifting the Clippers (26-8) to a 107-102 victory over the Lakers (15-17) at Staples Center.
QUOTABLE: "He's as competitive as there is."
--Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro on Paul
THE STAT: For the first time since moving to L.A. prior to the 1984-85 season, the Clippers won their first two games against the Lakers.
TURNING POINT: The Lakers fell behind by 19 points on a 3-pointer by Lamar Odom with 10:36 remaining in the game, but they didn't go away quietly. Kobe Bryant mounted a comeback by scoring 12 points over the next nine minutes, pulling the Lakers within two points on a 23-footer with 1:29 left. Lakers center Dwight Howard fouled out while trying to block Paul's shot as he drove to the basket, and Paul made both free throws to extend the lead back to four. Bryant then tried a deep 3-pointer but the ball rimmed out. Paul then went one-on-one with Bryant, stepping back and hitting 21-footer with 19 seconds remaining to push L.A.'s lead to 103-97.
HOT: After having their 17-game winning streak ended Tuesday in Denver, the Clippers still have an 11-game home winning streak. Bryant did just about all he could do to topple the Clippers, scoring 38 points on 15-for-25 shooting and accounting for five steals, his highest total in three years.
NOT: Lakers forward Pau Gasol would have sat and watched the entire fourth quarter if it wasn't for Howard fouling out. The 7-foot Spaniard finished with two points on 1-for-6 shooting — his lowest-scoring game since he scored two points in the third game of his career in 2001. He also grabbed just four rebounds in 28 minutes. Gasol, who was held to single digits just four times all last season, was held under 10 points for the sixth time in 24 games this season.
QUOTABLE II: "He just didn't have a good game."
--Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni on Gasol
GOOD MOVE: The Clippers were missing their second-leading scorer, back-up guard Jamal Crawford, who sat out with a sore foot. Clippers coach Del Negro asked Paul to pick up the extra minutes and he didn't miss a beat. He even started the second quarter after playing the entire opening quarter and scored four quick points to help L.A. extend its lead to 15. Paul and Bryant also exchanged highlight-reel plays against each other. Bryant threw down a breakaway dunk in the first half as Paul attempted to defend the shot at the rim. Paul got one back on his pull-up jumper in the closing seconds.
BAD MOVE: Clippers forward Blake Griffin finished with 24 points and five rebounds but could have done much more damage if not for picking up two fouls in the game's first 5 ½ minutes. Clippers center DeAndre Jordan went to the bench with his second foul a minute later. Their replacements, Odom and Ronny Turiaf, held down the fort, however, as the Clippers were able to extend their lead to seven points at the end of the quarter.
QUOTABLE III: "Blake got in foul trouble, but he had some big hoops down the stretch for us."
--Vinny del Negro
NOTABLE: Lakers back-up forward Jordan Hill suffered a grade-one ankle sprain early in the fourth quarter and did not return. Hill was having one of his best games of the season, finishing with 13 points and seven rebounds. ... Lakers back-up point guard Chris Duhon was available after missing Tuesday's loss against the 76ers with back spasms, but he did not play. ... The Clippers lead the Lakers by 10 games in the standings.
UP NEXT: For the Clippers, Saturday vs. Golden State, Wednesday vs. Dallas, Jan. 12 vs. Orlando. For the Lakers, Sunday vs. Denver, Tuesday @ Houston, Wednesday @ San Antonio.