The Clippers came into the game today with a chance to win the division for the first time ever. The Lakers had a chance to postpone that. With a loss today, the Lakers also fell out of the playoffs. They are now tied with the Utah Jazz in the standings, but the Jazz own the tiebreaker. Not only was it a big game for the Clippers, it was also a big game for the Lakers and Jazz. The Lakers needed to treat this game like a playoff game, and it seemed like they couldn’t.
The Lakers have played really well as of late, but today was not their day. They came out with some nice energy in the first quarter. There was a bit of a playoff type atmosphere, and the crowd seemed to be really in it. The Lakers defense was good at the start, holding the Clippers to 3-11 shooting. They were getting the ball inside to Howard and Pau, and they started off 3-3 from downtown. Kobe was in pass mode once again, and Earl Clark came off the bench hitting two straight threes. The quick start ended quickly for the Lakers. The Clippers got hot and ended the quarter on a 12-2 run. The Lakers were down 25-30, and Kobe didn’t score any points in the quarter.
The second quarter wasn’t good for the Lakers. The Clippers hit 10 straight shots, starting in the first quarter, and the defense was really struggling without Dwight Howard. Kobe finally hit his first shot with nine and a half minutes to go in the half. The Clippers seemed to be hitting everything. Jamal Crawford came in and scored 14 points off the bench. The Lakers brought the lead down to one on an alley oop and-one from Kobe Bryant to Dwight Howard. The Clippers made a basket, and on the Lakers next possession, Pau Gasol threw an alley oop to Dwight. Despite some bad play, the Lakers were only down seven at the half.
At the beginning of the second half, my internet connection got really sketchy. I was trying to watch the game, take notes about the game, and fix my connection all at the same time, so my analysis wasn’t that great.
The Clippers started the third quarter off on a 6-0 run to give them their biggest lead of the day, 13. The Lakers defense was still struggling to get stops. Dwight Howard and Earl Clark were the only ones who came to play defense. Howard had a couple nice blocks. A big problem for the Lakers was rebounds. They only had 26 rebounds to the Clippers 36. The Lakers were down by 12 heading into the fourth quarter.
The seven man rotation Mike D’Antoni has been using finally caught up to the Lakers today. Kobe had only rested for about six minutes in the last four games, and you could definitely tell. The ball movement because everyone was depending on Kobe, who was just exhausted. The Lakers rotations were really bad, allowing a bunch of open threes and mid-range shots. When you’re trying to make a comeback, defense is a must, and the Lakers couldn’t stop the Clippers.
The Lakers couldn’t put a run together, and ended up losing the game. The final score was 109-95.
Kobe didn’t shoot the ball well at all (6-19), but he did have 10 assists and 7 rebounds to go with his 25 points. Pau didn’t score a lot, but he helped in other parts of the game. He finished with 12 points, 13 rebounds, and 8 assists. Dwight Howard also scored 25 points, but he shot better. Howard somehow ended up only grabbing four rebounds, but he did have four blocks.
The Lakers will hope the Golden State Warriors beat the Utah Jazz tonight, but their biggest worry should be rest. They have the day off tomorrow before they take on the New Orleans Hornets. They better be careful with the Hornets because the last time they played, they needed a big comeback effort to win the game. With five games left, every win is important no matter the opponents record. Tuesday is no different.