Gameday: Lakers 116, Clippers 103

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tuesday, october 29 7:30pm at the staples center
Los Angeles Lakers Logo
los angeles
Los Angeles Clippers
los angeles
(1 – 0)
(0 - 1)
28 27 20 41 116
30 27 22 24 103
lakers vs. clippers
Lakers defeat the Clippers, 116-103.
Notebook: Lakers 116, Clippers 103
by dan arritt

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.

lakers-clippers preview
by jordan garretson

No longer a mere punchline or a lesser attraction, the Los Angeles Clippers have usurped the Los Angeles Lakers as the city's top team. But with the addition of Doc Rivers to coach up an already talent-laden roster, they aren't satisfied with merely being No. 1 in Los Angeles.

Coincidentally, though, their road to accomplishing more starts against the Kobe Bryant-less Lakers in a designated road game Tuesday night.

The Lakers (45-37) were the ones with championship expectations entering last season following the acquisitions of Dwight Howard and Steve Nash. Both were plagued by injuries, however, while Bryant suffered a torn Achilles tendon prior to a first-round sweep at the hands of San Antonio, and Howard bolted for Houston after his contract expired.

The Clippers (56-26) swept the season series for the first time since coming to Los Angeles, winning four meetings by an average of 13.2 points. Now being better than their historically superior arena mates appears to be the least of their concerns.

They've been successful in the regular season, as their 96 wins over the last two rank fifth in the NBA. But after a second-round exit in 2012, they were eliminated in the first round by Memphis despite jumping out to a 2-0 series lead.

"We have higher expectations for ourselves than anybody else," forward Blake Griffin said. "We don't feel we've arrived until we win a championship."

The Clippers fired Vinny Del Negro and dealt a future first-round pick to Boston to acquire Rivers' services. Since arriving, Rivers has put a priority on building a championship mentality, seen in his move to have the Lakers' banners and retired jerseys covered inside Staples Center for Clippers home games.

Point guard Chris Paul, who signed a five-year, $107 million extension in the offseason, found out in a hurry what playing for Rivers would be like.

"You always want someone to push you and motivate you," said Paul, who tied for the league lead in steals with 2.4 per game and finished second in assists at 9.7 but has only won two playoff series in his career. "In our first meeting, he told me I hadn't really done anything in this league, and he's right." Paul should be happy with more weapons at his disposal, particularly with a deeper group of reserves. The Clippers added a bevy of 3-point options in J.J. Redick, Jared Dudley and Byron Mullens, and the signing of Darren Collison should also help Paul find more time to catch a breather.

The Lakers enter with a roster full of question marks after a championship-or-bust season went bust. No firm timetable has been set for Bryant's return, so the responsibility of leadership - and production - appears to fall squarely on the shoulders of Nash and Pau Gasol in the meantime.

"It's really important for us to embrace these low expectations, try to find a chemistry and build ourselves into a team that has some confidence," said Nash, who at 39 is the league's oldest player. They'll be playing alongside a virtual scrap heap of free-agent acquisitions, including Nick Young, Wesley Johnson, Jordan Farmar and Shawne Williams. But where most generally see inexperience, Nash sees potential.

"We may not be as talented at the top like last year, but I think we got younger, more athletic with more shooters who can space the floor," Nash said.

Perhaps the youth can revitalize Nash, whose 6.7 assists per game were his fewest since 1999-00. Howard's departure also means Gasol will have the paint to himself, looking to improve on a career-low 13.7 points per game and 46.6 field-goal percentage. Paul is averaging 22.1 points and 12.4 assists in his last seven games against the Lakers.

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