It might have been a meaningless preseason game forced into the schedule no thanks to the NBA lockout. No matter, the early returns on the Battle of Los Angeles are that the hoops monopoly in L.A. is over. This one was all Clippers as Chris Paul looked all too comfortable leading his new teammates to a convincing 114-95 win.
On the other hand, the newer Lakers and older Lakers in new roles looked a little lost. Truth be told, the Lake Show hit some high notes in the first half but flamed out in third quarter as that is when the Clippers put this one to bed.
CP3 ran the show like Aaron Rodgers. He’s already in mid-season form. Get used to seeing the non-stop highlights of lobs to Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. This game was one Phil Jackson would have referred to as a Brokeback game. Chauncey Billups looks like he’ll be loving life with Paul setting the table for his spot up jumpers.
As in sync as the Clippers were the Lakers were not.
Mike Brown is going to need more time with his team to get this system up and running. We didn’t see much of defensive wizardry that was promised to follow Brown to Los Angeles. We also didn’t see much change in Metta World Peace as the anchor of the bench.
Metta looks as lost as a 6th man as he did in the triangle. If that doesn’t change then this will be a very long season. With all the game being jammed into a shorter schedule team depth will be important for veteran squads like the Lakers.
Speaking of vets, Kobe Bryant looked refreshed and renewed. KB24 had a bounce in his step that showed brief flashes of the beast we saw unleashed back in ’06. It might take that kind of effort every night from Kobe if the Lakers are going to seriously compete.
Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum were active and aggressive. Let’s hope those two can remain healthy and won’t wear down. Beyond Bynum and Pau the bench is slim. Josh McRoberts brings athleticism but not much strength in the post. In limited PT Troy Murphy showed a nice touch from deep.
As for the problems at point guard…there is still nothing to hope for in terms of improvement.
Steve Blake got the start as Derek Fisher got the night off while he works himself into game shape. Blake looked like he’s got some confidence back in his shot but still has no chance defending the CP3’s of the league. Darius Morris got plenty of burn and made some things happen out there. The rookie flashed a decent stroke including getting a few friendly bounces on some questionable shots. He’ll have to work on his D and on playing under control.
As a whole you could see the Lakers thinking instead of reacting. This is a learning process for everyone. Some of the initial concerns are at point guard and small forward. Matt Barnes still looks rusty while World Peace is still in a world of his own. Devin Ebanks might be the best of the bunch but we’ll have to wait and see.
The good news is that we won’t have to wait too long as these two teams tangle again in just two days. Wednesday they’ll swap the logos on the court as the Clippers take the stage for the first official home game of the Paul era.
It is far too early to pass judgment on the prospects of this Laker team. However it is not too late to wonder what could have been had David Stern not taken the advice of Dan Gilbert. The difference in these two teams was evident. Paul’s presence makes the Clippers automatically viable thanks to his QB nature on the court. The Lakers look lost at the moment and are looking for direction. Can’t help but wonder what this game would have been like with CP3 in purple and gold…
Topics: Andrew Bynum, Blake Griffin, Chauncey Billups, Chris Paul, Dan Gilbert, Darius Morris, David Stern, Deandre Jordan, Derek Fisher, Devin Ebanks, Josh Mcroberts, Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, Matt Barnes, Metta World Peace, Mike Brown, Pau Gasol, Phil Jackson, Steve Blake, Troy Murphy