It is far too early to determine whether a torch was passed on Saturday night at the Staples Center in Los Angeles; however the Clippers did score a decisive victory over the Lakers in part one of this season’s trilogy for “The Battle Of Los Angeles” knocking off their co-tenants by a final tally of 102-94. Kobe Bryant led all players with 42 points for the night while Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum both racked up double-doubles in the contest but they received too little support from their teammates to get the victory.
The Clippers had a far wider array of weapons at their disposal with Chris Paul knocking down 33 points while Blake Griffin notched a double-double as well with 22 points for the night. Chauncey Billups and Caron Butler also had strong performances as the club pulled ahead in the first half and held on for the win in the last 24 minutes of play.
The Clippers appeared that they would end the first period with a double-digit lead until Lakers guard Darius Morris threw up a 49 foot prayer just before the buzzer that miraculously found the net. That cut the Lakers deficit to 31-24 at the conclusion of the quarter. Bryant knocked down a bucket with 6:28 left in the second bringing his team within three points at 39-36; however that would be as close as they could get to their opponents in the period. Paul connected on a long-range jumper with 32 seconds remaining and the Clippers went into the locker room at the half on top 55-42.
The Lakers made their expected run during the third, digging themselves out of the hole they created in the first half. Bryant buried a 25 foot trey with 31 seconds to play cutting their opponents lead to 74-72. Five seconds later Paul answered back driving the lane and putting the ball through the cylinder and the Clippers had the advantage at 76-72 at the end of the period. Randy Foye hit a 25 foot trey to start of the final 12 minutes for the Clippers and it seemed to be the final knockout blow for their opponents as they never really threatened the rest of the night.
Paul scored 33 points, 6 assists, 4 rebounds and 3 steals in the victory. Griffin knocked down 22 points, 14 rebounds, 5 assists and 1 steal while Chauncey Billups had 19 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists. Caron Butler added 13 points, 5 rebounds, an assist and a steal while Foye came off the bench with 10 points and 2 rebounds.
Bryant put up 42 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals and a block in the loss. Gasol scored 14 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists and a block while Bryant had 12 points, 16 boards and 4 assists for the night. Clippers improve to 6-3 and head to New Jersey to take on the Nets Monday while the Lakers now have a record of 9-5 and will host the Dallas Mavericks on Monday.