Sizzling Clarkson Drops 33 in Lakers' Win Over Pacers
Jordan Clarkson had a simple explanation for one of the best nights of his career.
“The rim liked me,” he said.
Safe to say that the Lakers loved Clarkson, as he was the engine of their 99-86 win over Indiana. The sixth man erupted for 33 points — just two shy of his career-high — including 16 in the fourth quarter alone.
Clarkson put on a scoring clinic, hitting 14 of his 19 shots, from fast-break buckets and mid-range pull-ups to driving layups and a particularly nice backdoor cut that got him going in the opening quarter.
Clarkson was also excellent as a playmaker, constantly making the right decisions in pick-and-rolls, whether it was a shot for himself of pass to an open roller or cutter.
He added seven rebounds and seven assists to his scoring binge, helping fill a void left by injured point guard Lonzo Ball, who leads his team in both categories.
The Lakers (16-29) won without Ball for the first time in eight tries.
“I was just hooping today,” Clarkson said. “I was comfortable, not thinking too much and that’s it.”
Jordan Clarkson has done a nice job of making plays in Lonzo’s absence.— Joey Ramirez (@JoeyARamirez) January 20, 2018
15 pts and 7 ast in 17 minutes so far, including this nice drive-and-kick dime to Hart. pic.twitter.com/nCymKpdbi5
Along with Ball, the Lakers were also without Brandon Ingram and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, as three-fifths of their starting lineup was injured.
To make matters worse, the Lakers shot a stomach-turning 2-of-14 on free throws — the worst clip by a winning team in recorded NBA history (since 1963).
Plus, Indiana (24-22) had 17 more shot attempts thanks to significant advantages in turnovers and offensive rebounds.
But the Lakers made up for it with some of their best defense of the year.
The Pacers shot just 38.1 percent from the field, including a ghastly 2-of-25 from 3-point range.
Indiana star Victor Oladipo racked up 25 points, but needed 26 shots to get there.
“Our defense was awesome tonight, and that was the challenge all day long to the guys,” Walton said. “It doesn’t matter who’s out, how many guys are out if we defend the way we are capable of.”
La jugada que resume la performance defensiva de los Lakers ante Indiana. El trabajo de Hart sobre Oladipo, rotaciones correctas y a tiempo, y protección tanto en el perímetro como en la pintura. pic.twitter.com/XEpZOBp10K— Rodrigo Azurmendi (@RodAzurmendi) January 20, 2018
Fittingly, it was Clarkson and defense that won the game down the stretch. The Lakers’ lead dipped to two with five minutes left before they roared back with a 15-2 run.
Clarkson ignited from deep, hitting three 3-pointers: one looping around a screen, a heat-check four-point play, and a pick-and-roll pull-up.
The 25-year-old made all six of his shots in the fourth and scored a dozen points in the final five minutes, leading his team to a fourth straight home win.
Lakers were in a pinch (up only 2) and fed the hot hand.— Joey Ramirez (@JoeyARamirez) January 20, 2018
Jordan Clarkson meanders into the paint before bolting back around a Nance screen for the open 3.
JC with 12 points in the final 5 minutes. pic.twitter.com/GzuxDlH3W0
L.A. shot 55.0 percent from the field, as Larry Nance Jr. hit all five shots toward 10 points and 11 rebounds. … The Lakers scored 60 points in the paint, and the Pacers had 58. … A crowd of 18,997 sold out STAPLES Center.