THE FACT: Up against the cross-town rival Clippers and reigning NBA Sixth Man of the Year Jamal Crawford, it was the Lakers' bench that combined to score 76 of their team's 116 points in the season-opening victory.
THE LEAD: Few believed that the Lakers had a chance to win Tuesday night against the visiting Clippers. No Kobe Bryant, No Dwight Howard and an aging, banged up Steve Nash trying to piece together an 18th NBA season. But the Lakers discovered they might be in good hands after all, getting a remarkable performance from a young and energetic blend of reserves who carried the torch in the 116-103 victory at Staples Center.
QUOTABLE: "The Lakers are for real this year."
-- Lakers reserve guard Xavier Henry
THE STAT: The Lakers' reserves combined to score their team's final 48 points, including all 41 in the fourth quarter. TURNING POINT: The Clippers looked like they might finally shake the Lakers after scoring the first six points of the second half to take their biggest lead, 63-55. They still maintained a three-point edge early in the fourth quarter when the unimaginable began to happen; the Lakers began hitting shots from all over the floor. Jodie Meeks tied the score with a 3-pointer and then followed with a three-point play in transition, just as Chris Paul and Blake Griffin headed to the scorer's table for the Clippers. The All-Star duo was unable to halt the momentum, as Henry and Wes Johnson sandwiched 3-pointers around a Jordan Farmar basket, extending the lead to 94-86. The Clippers made one last push on Paul's three-point play, but Jordan Hill scored inside and Farmar laid in a high-arcing driving scoop shot to push the lead back to nine and the Clippers were out of answers.
HOT: In his first game with his new team, Henry scored a career-high 22 points, including 12 in the fourth quarter. Farmar added 16 points, which was more than any of the Lakers starters, and Hill pitched in 12 points and eight rebounds, seven boards coming on the offensive glass. The Clippers shot 58.5 percent from the floor in the first half, but only led by two points at the break.
NOT: Crawford should continue to be a major force off the bench this season, but he was probably the sixth or seventh best reserve in this game. He missed six of his first seven shots before picking up a few buckets when the Lakers had already stretched their lead to double digits, finishing 5-for-13 from the field for 15 points. Paul finished with the same scoring line as Crawford, only he picked up 11 assists along the way.
GOOD MOVE: Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni recognized a good thing when he saw it and left his reserves in the game for the entire fourth quarter. That meant extra rest for Nash, who's considering sitting out the second game of back-to-backs this season to rest his body. With the Lakers heading north for a game Wednesday against the Warriors, there's a good chance Nash will be available now.
QUOTABLE II: "What's the worst that can happen? We lose and people say we're no good?"
-- Lakers guard Jodie Meeks
BAD MOVE: Clippers shooting guard J.J. Redick got off to a great start with his new team, shooting 5-for-7 from the field in the opening quarter and scoring 12 points. But the Clippers didn't make much of an effort to find him after that, as he took just one shot in each of the second and third quarters, missing both. He played 11 minutes of the fourth quarter and still came up empty, missing all three of his shots.
NOTABLE: The last time the Lakers scored more bench points was in 1988 (84 vs. the Warriors). ... Matt Barnes and DeAndre Jordan received flagrant fouls after knocking two members of the Lakers to the floor in the first half. ... The Lakers outrebounded the Clippers 64-49.
UP NEXT: For the Lakers, Wednesday @ Golden State, Friday vs. San Antonio, Sunday vs. Atlanta. For the Clippers, Thursday vs. Golden State, Friday @ Sacramento, Monday vs. Houston.