The plot of Wednesday night’s contest at the Staples Center could have been the plot of a Western from the forties; with the Lakers in the role of the aging gunslinger and the Clippers as the new kid in town looking to burnish their reputation. The second round of the much hyped “Battle Of Los Angeles” took place with the Clippers winning the first contest earlier this month by a final score of 102-94. Wednesday night the Lakers got hot with the game on the line and defeated their co-tenants 96-91.
Kobe Bryant led the way for his club with 24 points while Pau Gasol racked up a double-double including 23 points in the victory; snapping a three game losing streak. Blake Griffin was the game’s high scorer as he knocked down 26 points while Caron Butler and Mo Williams each chipped in 16 points for the night. Chris Paul returned to the Clippers after being sidelined with a strained hamstring injury for the previous five games. The All-Star point guard dished off 12 assists, but scored just 4 points in the loss.
Both clubs came out in the first 12 minutes of action showing they wanted to claim bragging rights at the end of this contest. Ryan Gomes connected on a three-foot bunny giving the Clippers a 27-25 advantage at the end of the period. The Clippers retained the lead for the entire second quarter, but they never went ahead by more than five points. Derek Fisher drained a 25-foot trey with eight seconds to play and as the game reached the half the Clippers were clinging to a 51-49 lead.
The Clippers led off the third going on a 9-2 run, however the Lakers fought back and had their deficit down to one point as Fisher once again buried a 24 foot trey with 5:30 remaining making it a 64-63 affair. Their opponents pulled ahead once again but Gasol drove the lane putting the rock in the hole and cutting the Clippers lead to 71-68 as the quarter concluded. The Clippers maintained a slim lead through the fourth until Bryant hit an outside jumper with 5:01 on the clock giving his squad the upper hand at 81-80. The Lakers would keep the lead for the balance of the game as the Clippers offense got stuck in neutral at that point; with only Griffin and DeAndre Jordan scoring for the rest of the night.
Bryant scored 24 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists while Gasol knocked down 23 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists, a block and a steal. Andrew Bynum had 19 points, 6 rebounds, 4 blocks and a steal while rookie guard Andrew Goudelock who was taken by the club in the second round of the 2011 NBA Draft, had his coming out party as he came off the bench with 14 points and 2 rebounds. Fisher added 11 points, 2 rebounds and 1 assist.
Griffin notched a game high 26 points and had 9 rebounds in the loss. Butler scored 16 points, 5 rebounds, 3 steals and an assist while Mo Williams also added 16 points, an assist and a rebound. Jordan chipped in 11 points, 5 rebounds, 2 blocks and 1 steal. Lakers improve to 11-8 and are off until Saturday as they travel to Milwaukee to face the Bucks while the Clippers now have a record of 9-6 and will host the Memphis Grizzlies on Thursday.