Lakers Gameday | 04/14/10 | Clippers

Box Score
Play by Play

1 Triple-double for Clippers point guard Steve Blake, who scored 23 points with 11 assists and 10 rebounds on 8-of-12 shooting (4-of-6 3-pointers).

2 Unfortunate injuries in as many days for the Lakers as Sasha Vujacic’s severely sprained left ankle followed Jordan Farmar’s strained left hamstring from the previous night. Farmar, however, is expected to be OK.

17 Rebounds for Pau Gasol, allowing him to finish with an average of 11.3. That’s good for a career high, and fifth in the NBA.

21 Points for Lamar Odom to lead the Lakers on an efficient 7-for-12 from the field.

39.5 L.A.’s shooting percentage, over 10 points lower than the Clippers’ 50.6 percent.

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MINNEAPOLIS(AP) Pau Gasol had 29 points and 15 rebounds, and the Kobe-less Los Angeles Lakers locked up home court throughout the Western Conference playoffs with a 97-88 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday night.

Lamar Odom had 13 points and 12 rebounds for the defending champions, who have the No. 1 seed in the West for the third straight season.

Jonny Flynn scored 19 points and Kevin Love had 12 points and 18 rebounds for the Timberwolves, who were missing their leading scorer as well. Al Jefferson missed his second straight game and has not been with the team for the last four days while attending to a relative who has been in the hospital.

Coach Phil Jackson rested Bryant for the second night in a row, clearly concerned more about getting his lead dog ready for the postseason than playing against the worst team in the Western Conference.

Bryant has been bothered by an aching right index finger, which contributed to his 13-for-47 shooting in his previous two games played. Jackson also wants Bryant's legs to be fresh for a run at another title in a rugged Western Conference that could feature all eight teams with at least 50 wins.

Jackson said before the game that he wasn't sure if Bryant would play on Sunday against Portland. With the top seed all locked up, there may be no reason to.

With Jefferson out of the lineup, Gasol went right at Darko Milicic and Love in the paint, getting easy hook shots and putbacks at will.

The Lakers built an 18-point lead in the first half, but they haven't been playing all that well lately and they didn't put away the 15-win Timberwolves until late in the final period. With Andrew Bynum missing his 10th straight game and Bryant a little dinged up, the Lakers had won just two of their previous seven games.

They were just as unconvincing in this one.

Minnesota outscored Los Angeles 31-22 in the third quarter, with the Lakers struggling mightily when Gasol wasn't on the floor.

Milicic's three-point play at the end of the period cut the deficit to nine points and a 10-2 run help the Wolves creep to 88-84 with 2:23 to play.

But Gasol added another hook shot and Odom swished a 3-pointer with 32 seconds to go to put the game out of reach.

``The Lakers are the team to beat,'' Wolves coach Kurt Rambis said before the game.

Rambis spent the majority of his playing career with the Lakers and served as an assistant there for seven seasons, including their run to the NBA title last season. Unwilling to wait for Jackson to retire in Los Angeles, Rambis left the Lakers bench to take over the Timberwolves this season and inherited quite a mess.

With a young team that essentially ignored this season with an eye on development and making a run at the bumper free agent pool this summer, the Wolves have endured two losing streaks of at least 15 games this year and have lost 26 of their last 28 games.

NOTES: Jackson said several fans who saw him in the team hotel expressed their frustration with Bryant being given the night off in his only trip to Minneapolis this season. ``I've already said I'm sorry to a couple people,'' he said with a smile. ... Wolves guard Wayne Ellington returned after missing the game on Wednesday against Golden State with strep throat.

Copyright 2010 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited

Lakers Foward Ron Artest

Effects of Sasha Vujacic’s injury
“I think every game is meaningful.  The last couple of games I just don’t think there is anything we could have done differently. I think a lot will show on Sunday. We are definitely going to miss Sasha [Vujacic].  He was really starting to play well and I can’t wait until we get him back.”

Lakers Forward Pau Gasol

Preparing for Oklahoma City
“We start by watching film.  We know what kind of team they are.  [Kevin] Durant is playing really well, so you just have to make sure you stop him.”

Lakers Forward Lamar Odom

Going in to the playoffs
“We will be prepared.  We have a great coaching staff and great players.  This is just one game for us.  The Western Conference has been pretty tough for the last couple of years.  All the teams in the playoffs have at least 50 wins.  We have won it the last three years in a row.  I think the playoffs are always a great time of year.”

Clippers Interim Head Coach Kim Hughes

Play of Clippers
“I thought it was a great way to end the season. The bench came in and helped us out tremendously tonight. Tonight we were a well balanced team all the way around.”

Steve Blake’s Performance
“He was fantastic, very aggressive. He was aggressive when he was looking for shots and I liked that. Most of the time he is too unselfish and passes when he should shoot. I was very happy to see how aggressive he was. He played his best game of the year, by far.”

Hughes Reign as Head Coach
“I didn’t know if I could do it. I truly did not know. I wasn’t sure if I would lose my hair or have too many sleepless nights. I have heard that when you move over 18 inches, it truly changes your life. And, it does.”

Clippers Guard Steve Blake

Finishing the season with a win
“I feel pretty good about the win and about the performance.  At the same time, it’s sad the season is over for us.  It has been a long couple of months but you learn from your experiences.  We hope that all of us would improve from what we’ve learned here.”

Assessment of the team’s performance overall
“There were some times that we were really good, but we didn’t do it consistently.  At the same time, I really enjoyed playing with the guys and I love playing for Coach Hughes.  I’m just very happy to have gotten this opportunity.  The Clippers are an organization I’d love to continue playing for.”

His triple-double performance
“Sometimes you’re in the right spot at the right time.  I got a few rebounds early, so I thought I better start running around and get as many as I could get.  The rebounds started getting tough to come by.  The big guys started crashing the boards so I went for the scraps and I finally got it.”

Clippers Center Chris Kaman

Finishing the season with a win
“The right way to end the season is to go out with a win.  There’s no better place to do it than at home against the Lakers with our fans here.  It was a good way to finish the season.”

Clippers’ performance against the Lakers
“We did a good job against them.  Obviously, they didn’t have Kobe [Bryant], but we didn’t have Baron [Davis], Drew [Gooden] and Eric [Gordon].  It was a fair match-up and we did a good job.  The guys defended well and we played hard.”

Assessment of his overall performance this season
“There were some times that I didn’t play that well.  I thought I was pretty successful for the most part but there were times that I could’ve played a little bit better.”

Lakers vs. Clippers Game Preview


With the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference clinched and their first playoff opponent decided, the Los Angeles Lakers would probably prefer to just skip their regular-season finale Wednesday night against the lowly Los Angeles Clippers. Because at this point, another injury is the last thing the defending champs need.

After securing home-court advantage throughout the West playoffs Friday in Minnesota, it would appear that the Lakers (57-24) will have a significant advantage against No. 8 seed Oklahoma City on Sunday when the team's are expected to open first-round play at Staples Center.

However, the Lakers have lost six of 10, and even one of the worst teams in the West is questioning the defending champs' ability to repeat.

"I truly think any team making the playoffs in the West can win it,'' Clippers interim coach Kim Hughes said following Monday's 117-94 loss to Dallas. "I think the Lakers have lost their karma a little bit, and they've lost their chemistry."

The Lakers like their position atop the West, but with Jordan Farmar straining his left hamstring in Tuesday's 106-100 win over Sacramento, there's a potentially huge hole to fill off the bench.

"We feel pretty good about what we've done, though," Pau Gasol said after scoring 28 points against the Kings. "We don't like the injuries and all, but hopefully (Farmar's leg) won't be too bad.''

Kobe Bryant has missed three of the last four games to recover from a slew of injuries, including a swollen right knee and a fracture on his right index finger, and he will not play Wednesday in order to rest for the Thunder.

Andrew Bynum will also miss the regular-season finale after being sidelined the last 12 games with a strained left Achilles'. Lakers coach Phil Jackson, though, believes the 22-year-old center could start practicing Friday or Saturday and be ready for the postseason opener.

While the Lakers try to escape without injury in their final regular-season game, the Clippers cap off another disappointing campaign that will have them miss the postseason for the 15th time in 17 seasons.

The team's hopes for a successful 2009-10 were dampened a day before the season started when it learned that No. 1 overall pick Blake Griffin had suffered a broken left knee cap in the final preseason game.

With Griffin sidelined the entire year and Hughes taking over on an interim basis for Mike Dunleavy on Feb. 4, the Clippers (28-53) will finish with fewer than 30 wins for the third straight year. While they haven't advanced to the postseason since 2006, the Clippers remain optimistic of 2010-11 playoff run.

"Honesty, I think that with Blake Griffin and the five guys we already have under contract coming back the team is very close to being a playoff team," said forward Rasual Butler. "We just need to get a core group together and keep them together."

Clippers point guard Baron Davis is not expected to play Wednesday due to sprained right wrist.

If the Clippers can end their season with a second victory over the Lakers - they also defeated the defending champs 102-91 on Jan. 6 - it will give them a season split after being swept each of the last two seasons.

If Orlando loses to visiting Philadelphia on Wednesday and the Lakers defeat the Clippers, Los Angeles will have home-court advantage if it faces the Magic in a finals rematch.

Copyright 2010 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited

Ron Artest
(left heel bruise/sprained left thumb) will play.
Shannon Brown
(sprained right thumb) will play.
Kobe Bryant
(avulsion fracture, right index finger) is out.
Andrew Bynum
(left Achilles strain) is out.
Luke Walton
(pinched nerve, back) is probable.

Blake Griffin (stress fracture of left patella) is out.
Baron Davis (sprained right wrist) is out.
Drew Gooden (sore right knee) is out.
Eric Gordon (viral infection) is questionable.

The Lakers lead their season series with the Clippers 2-1 after sweeping last season’s series 4-0 for the second consecutive year. The two teams have met 184 times overall and on 118 occasions since the Clippers moved to Los Angeles with the Lakers leading the all-time series 138-46 (92-26 vs. LAC). Overall, the Lakers have lost just two series in franchise history (1992-93 & 1974-75) to the Clippers. The Lakers are 9-1 in their last 10 games against the Clippers. At home against the Clippers, the Lakers are 18-4 all-time at STAPLES Center and have gone 8-2 in their last 10 home contests. On the road against the Clippers, the Lakers are 6-4 in their last 10 games as a visitor at STAPLES Center. Under head coach Phil Jackson, the Lakers are 31-8 versus the Clippers. For the third time in the last three years, the Lakers established a new largest margin of victory against the Clippers since they moved from San Diego to Los Angeles prior to the 1984-85 season, defeating the Clippers by 40 points (126-86) in their most recent meeting 1/15/10. (previous largest margin of victories were 38 (117-79, 10/29/09) and 37 (119-82, 3/7/08). In their meeting on January 21, 2009, Andrew Bynum recorded a career-high 42 points while becoming the first Lakers player other than Kobe Bryant to record 40-plus points since 2003. In addition, Bryant posted his 16th career triple-double in that game with 18 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists. In 53 career games versus the Clippers including 45 starts, Bryant is averaging 25.1 points. Additionally, Bryant has posted two 50-point games against the Clippers, most recently 4/12/07 vs. LAC (other: 50 points 1/7/06 @ LAC). With the departures of Elton Brand and Corey Maggette prior to the 2008-09 campaign, no Clippers remain from Lamar Odom’s time with the team (1999-03). Lakers forward Josh Powell played 64 games (25 starts) with the Clippers (2007-08), averaging 5.5 points and 5.2 rebounds in 19.2 minutes.