Notebook: Clippers 109, Lakers 95



Posted Apr 7, 2013 6:55 PM

By Dan Arritt, for NBA.com

THE FACTS: The Los Angeles Clippers spent the last 29 years playing in the massive shadow of the L.A. Lakers, trying to get the locals to notice their product while the other, more famous, area team stole most of the attention by winning eight league championships in that span. The Clippers finally had their moment Sunday, beating the Lakers 109-95 to clinch their first-ever division title.

Thanks to another big game off the bench from Jamal Crawford and steady performances from starters Blake Griffin, Chris Paul and Caron Butler, the Clippers (51-26) also swept the Lakers (40-37) in a season series for the first time since moving to L.A. and the first time since the franchise was in Buffalo.

QUOTABLE: "I thought Blake and Chris were in tune with everything, as far as locking in on timeouts and demanding things from their teammates. ... You're a different team when your top players do that."

--Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro

THE STAT: The Clippers last swept the Lakers when they were known as the Buffalo Braves in 1974-75.

TURNING POINT: After closing the first quarter on a 14-4 run to go ahead 30-25, the Clippers closed the second quarter on a 7-1 burst to take a 56-49 lead into the locker room. The Clippers then scored the first six points of the second half to balloon the lead to 13. The Lakers couldn't get back to single digits until Earl Clark converted a three-point play with 7:39 remaining in the game to cut the lead to 88-79. Del Negro then promptly inserted Paul back into the game, Matt Barnes hit a jumper 13 seconds later to push the lead back to 11 and the Lakers never got back within single digits.

HOT: Paul and Crawford don't start side by side but they do most of their damage when they're paired together. Paul, who came in averaging 24 points, 13.7 assists and 2.3 steals in the first three games against the Lakers this season, finished with 24 points, 12 assists and three steals in the final meeting between the teams. Crawford finished with 20 points, the 28th time this season he has scored at least 20 off the bench. Griffin muscled his way for 24 points and 12 rebounds and Butler, after starting 1-for-5 from the floor, made five of his next seven field-goal attempts before finishing with 14 points. Lakers center Dwight Howard, a 49 percent free-throw shooter this season, shot 9-for-13 from the stripe on his way to scoring 25 points, but was limited to four rebounds, nearly nine below his average.

QUOTABLE II: "[The Clippers] are very athletic, they're long, and it just seemed like weird stuff happened. They missed stuff that was so off it rebounded crazy."

--Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni

NOT: Lakers forward Kobe Bryant was hounded by the Clippers throughout the game and his shooting paid the price. He finished 6-for-19 from the floor while scoring 25 points and dishing out 10 assists. He played all but the final 39.8 seconds. Bryant ended a streak of 18 consecutive missed 3-pointers midway through the third quarter to cut the deficit to 71-60, then missed from beyond the arc on the next trip down the floor to resume his struggles from deep.

GOOD MOVE: Griffin showed he's not just a power player late in the game, sinking his fifth 3-pointer of the season with 1:20 remaining to give the Clippers their biggest lead, 108-92, and send Laker fans scurrying for the exits.

BAD MOVE: The Lakers got off to a strong start, building an early 8-1 lead and making their first four 3-point attempts. Everything went south from there, however, as the Lakers finished 7-for-24 from beyond the arc.

QUOTABLE III: "I don't think we came out with enough mental intensity."

--Mike D'Antoni

NOTABLE: The Clippers improved to 26-20 since their franchise-record 17-game winning streak. ... The 30 points the Lakers allowed in the first quarter was the first time they gave up more than 25 in the previous 11 quarters. ... The Clippers grabbed 16 offensive rebounds. ... Lakers point guard Steve Nash missed his third straight game with hip and hamstring injuries. ... Bryant nearly played all 48 minutes for the first time since April 12, 2007. ... If the Jazz win at Golden State later today, they'll pass the Lakers for eighth in the West.

UP NEXT: For the Clippers, Wednesday vs. Minnesota, Friday @ New Orleans, Saturday @ Memphis. For the Lakers, Tuesday vs. New Orleans, Wednesday @ Portland, Friday vs. Golden State.