Somehow you feel like this is exactly what David Stern envisioned when he bent over for Dan Gilbert. This season’s first official Battle of Los Angeles featured a classic duel between Kobe Bryant and Chris Paul. In the end this one didn’t look too much different than what we saw when these two tangled in the preseason.
The Lake Show eventually overcame a lethargic start thanks in very large part to KB24.
Bryant wasn’t looking very likely to eclipse the 40-point barrier for a fourth straight contest until he hit the locker room with the Lakers trailing by double digits to the Clippers.
Whatever got Bryant’s blood boiling during intermission spilled over at the start of the third.
Continuing his theme of rolling back the clock, Kobe went into killer mode and began burying a barrage of long range jumpers. Before you knew it the Clipper lead was cut to just two points as that infamous scowl came across Kobe’s face. Once the dust settled Mamba dropped 21 in the third frame and was looking likely to lead another legendary comeback.
While the Clippers had no answer for Bryant’s brilliance the same is always true when the Lakers try to defend CP3.
Much like what we saw last year in the playoffs, Paul abused the Lake Show. At one point Paul was going shot for shot with Bryant hitting step back jumpers, runners in the lane and even a 40-foot three as the shot clock expired.
In the end Bryant outscored Paul 42 to 33 but it was the Clipp Joint that notched the 102-94 W.
As usual only three Lakers scored in double figures. The usual suspects accounted for almost all of L.A.’s offense with Bryant shouldering the biggest load of all.
Both Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum dropped double-doubles but it was L.A.’s other team that dominated the boards. Coming into the contest the Clippers were the worst rebounding team in the league. How they bested their crosscourt rivals on the boards is a question with a simple answer – hustle.
Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan were just more active and much more aggressive. Then when you can bring a rebounding hog like Reggie Evans off the bench you start to wonder how the Clippers are so lackluster on the boards.
Now if you want to see lackluster then just take a look at how Mike Brown’s bench is playing.
Darius Morris played a career-high 23 minutes a led the way for the Lakers with 7 off the bench. It should be noted three of those came on a last second heave from half court. Beyond Morris, Josh McRoberts, Metta World Peace and Jason Kapono scored a combined 6 points.
Pathetic. Plain and simple.
Losing Steve Blake for the next month is already looming large. There is just absolutely no fire power off the bench. In Lamar Odom fact there isn’t much else after Bryant, Bynum and Pau. Sure would be nice to have a versatile, -type to bring off the bench.
With Bryant giving it all he’s got only one month into the season you’ve got to wonder how much longer this torrid pace will continue. These days Kobe is leaving next to nothing in the tank. Before the haterade is poured keep in mind that this is the first loss the Lakers have suffered during Kobe’s 40-point streak. Sure, he forced some shots but if he didn’t then nobody else was going to get this game back to within reach.
The real problem is obvious and has been overstated – the Lakers just can’t compete with athletic teams led by quality point guards. When is that going to change? Apparently no time soon so long as Dan Gilbert has David Stern on a leash.
Topics: Andrew Bynum, Blake Griffin, Chris Paul, Dan Gilbert, Darius Morris, David Stern, Deandre Jordan, Jason Kapono, Josh Mcroberts, Kobe Bryant, Lamar Odom, Los Angeles Clippers, Metta World Peace, Mike Brown, Pau Gasol, Reggie Evans, Steve Blake