The Lakers decided not to give their across-the-hall opponents anything for Christmas, instead roaring back from an early double-digit deficit to the LA Clippers.
Sick of losing 12 of their last 13 overall — plus 11 straight games to their Staples Center co-tenants — the Lakers used a huge third-quarter burst to propel their 111-102 victory on Christmas night.
“I think we played that way because of having an edge from all the losing we’ve been doing,” head coach Luke Walton said.
A rematch of last year’s Christmas meeting between seemed to be tilting in the Clippers’ favor once again, as they captured an 11-point lead late in the first quarter behind a dozen points from J.J. Redick, who stepped up in the absence of perennial All-Stars Chris Paul (hamstring sprain) and Blake Griffin (knee procedure).
But the Lakers (12-22) steadied themselves in the second quarter and entered halftime down by only three.
Once they returned from the locker room, the Lakers — who have struggled in third quarters all season — made like a yule log and caught fire.
The Lakers began the frame with 13 unanswered points — six of which were provided by Timofey Mozgov — to seize a 68-58 lead. Then, they let the points avalanche.
They outscored the Clippers (22-10) in the third quarter, 34-16, as Mozgov led the way with a dozen points, mainly earned from some feathery mid-range shooting.
The Clippers, however, did create some drama in the fourth quarter, beginning it with an 11-0 run to chop the Lakers’ advantage down to 89-85.
With the lead still at four with six minutes remaining, D’Angelo Russell provided the bucket needed to stabilize the team by sinking a corner 3-pointer, which was followed by a turnaround jumper from Brandon Ingram.
Soon after, the Lakers’ lead was back up to double figures as they beat the Clippers for the first time since the 2013 season opener.
Redick — who finished with 22 points — only played eight minutes of the second half due to a sore hamstring. But Nick “Saint Nicholas” Young — who is the only remaining Laker from the last time they beat their intracity opponent — was only concerned with the final result.
“A win is a win,” Young said. “Nobody cared when we were hurt and injured, so why should we? We just have to take advantage of these games.”
Young was crucial to beating his former team, scoring 19 points while splashing five 3-pointers. Mozgov matched that scoring total, shooting an efficient 8-of-11 from the field.
Luol Deng added his fourth double-double of the year by tallying 13 points and a season-high 12 rebounds. The 31-year-old put in the effort for his squad, hauling in five offensive boards while stuffing the Clippers’ stockings with a pair of blocks on one possession in the third quarter.
“I just though the Lakers came out and just played hard,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “They moved the ball and I think they deserved to win the game.”
With that win, the Lakers have now tied the New York Knicks for the most victories on Christmas Day with 21.
It also capped off an especially wild week for Julius Randle, who provided 13 points, seven rebounds and eight assists before admitting that he was “exhausted” from the game and staying up with his 2-day-old son, Kyden.
“(It is) a really good Christmas present,” Randle said of his first child. “I can’t wait to get home and get to him. (The last few days) have been great. The anticipation, excitement and him finally getting here and just being with him — it’s just been great.”
D’Angelo Russell (14 points), Lou Williams (14) and Ingram (10) rounded out the Lakers who scored double figures. … Jamal Crawford had 22 points for the Clippers, while DeAndre Jordan had seven points, 10 rebounds and a career-high six assists. … A sold-out crowd of 18,997 packed Staples Center for the holiday clash.