LeBron James
(Harry How/Getty Images North America)

Lakers Outlast Clippers With Second Half Surge

by Rodrigo Azurmendi
Staff Writer

LOS ANGELES – Hard to think of a better weekend.

After beating the team with the best record in the NBA (Milwaukee) Friday night, the Lakers dismantled the LA Clippers on Sunday to extend their lead in the West to 6.5 games.

A dominant second half proved the relentlessness of Frank Vogel’s squad – a team that just keeps coming and coming and coming at you until you eventually falter.

The Clippers had a narrow lead at halftime thanks to some pesky defense and an excellent Paul George, but it was no match to what came after intermission.

With LeBron James at the helm, Avery Bradley providing spacing – and continued hot shooting – and Anthony Davis shutting down the paint, the purple and gold had all the answers and then some.

It was a masterful performance in a game that both teams tried to downplay in the leadup, but that was played with the intensity, focus, and execution of a playoff bout.

“We knew it was a big weekend for us," James said. “We knew we had Milwaukee on Friday, that’s the No. 1 team in our league, and we knew we had the Clippers on their home floor and they beat us the first two times – both in their home floor and our home floor. We’re a team that doesn’t want to be swept by anyone, so we came in with that mindset.”

The second half bordered on perfection, as the Lakers shot 51.1% from the field and out-scored and out-rebounded the Clippers while committing just five turnovers and limiting Doc Rivers’ squad to just six assists.

And in a true team effort, no Laker finished with a negative +/- from the third quarter on, with Rajon Rondo even finding time to get himself in the Top 15 of the all-time assists list.

AB was special though, nailing five of his six threes en route to a season-high 24 points.

“Avery Bradley in that third quarter was the reason why we were able to make that run, because of his three-point shooting,” James said. “We just tried to follow that lead from there.”

The King saved his best for last, scoring 12 of his 28 in the fourth quarter while hunting favorable switches and playing some key opponents like Lou Williams off the floor. He finished with seven rebounds, nine assists, a pair of blocks and a handful of clutch, winning plays on the defensive end.

Just like on Friday against Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks, everything flowed through him as he showed to be the best player on the floor.

As for the bigger picture, the Lakers are now 11-1 in their last 12 and have won in every Western Conference arena besides Minnesota – where they haven’t played yet.

On top of that – and clinching a playoff berth on Friday and widening the lead for the No. 1 seed – they defeated arguably the two other major title contenders in less than 48 hours by a combined 19 points…while shooting a middling 16-of-67 (23.9%) from long range.

That’s the ceiling of a team capable of defending like this while following the lead of a passionate star duo (Anthony Davis also had 30 points on 19 shots) committed to the cause.

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