KCP's Red-Hot Night Not Enough to Close Out Clippers
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scorched his way to his highest scoring total as a Laker. But he had the unenviable duty of containing an even hotter threat.
Caldwell-Pope racked up 29 points including five 3-pointers, yet he and the Lakers couldn’t hold off an onslaught from Lou Williams, who poured in 42 points to lead the LA Clippers to a 120-115 win.
Relying mostly on his pull-up jumper, KCP ignited from the very beginning with 16 points in the first quarter alone.
KCP finishes with a team-high 29 points, connecting from deep five times against Los Angeles. pic.twitter.com/JYHUJJWsqJ— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) November 28, 2017
His one-man show had the Lakers (8-12) in position to win, as the purple and gold found themselves tied early in the fourth quarter. Then, spurred by three tough Jordan Clarkson jumpers, they took a 103-95 lead with eight minutes left.
But the Clippers (8-11) responded with a 15-2 run — including six points from Williams.
Brandon Ingram’s dunk pulled the Lakers within one with three minutes left, but Williams continued to torment his former teammates and ended the game with 14 points in the final frame.
Williams shot 12-of-21 from the field and also hit four 3-pointers and all 14 of his free throw attempts.
“He was just getting to his spots,” Clarkson said. “It was hard to cover him. He draws fouls, just did a good job tonight of scoring the ball. Took advantage of us; got to the lane, made plays.”
Clarkson, who was opportunistic in the paint and crafty in isolation, finished with 17 points on 8-of-12 shooting. But he and Kyle Kuzma (15 points, 5-of-7, three 3-pointers) sat for much of the final stretch.
This decision was the focal part of head coach Luke Walton’s challenge to find the right mix of offense and defense for crunch time.
This was primarily seen in the balance of power forwards. Larry Nance Jr. — back from a three-week injury stead — returned to the starting lineup, while Kuzma came off the bench.
Although Kuzma has escalated to the top of the Lakers’ scoring leaders, Walton liked the way that Nance (nine points, eight rebounds, four steals) competed defensively.
Nance — whom Walton thought was the Lakers’ best player of the night — received 30 minutes on the court, while Kuzma had 20.
But Walton said that he was “disappointed in our individual defense” from the entire team down the stretch.
“We had some guys going offensively that weren’t playing any defense,” Walton said, “and then we had some guys going defensively that weren’t making plays on the offensive end.”
Lakers fall in a close battle to the Clippers, 120-115 pic.twitter.com/BY9ZZruUUZ— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) November 28, 2017
Ingram scored 17 points on 6-of-10 shooting. … Nance played solid defense on Blake Griffin, who nonetheless had 26 points and 11 rebounds before leaving due to injury in the fourth quarter. … An audience of 18,086 was in attendance at STAPLES Center.