With Kobe Bryant on a roll for the past three games, including his 40-point streak. He has definitely been doin' work. Last night as the Lakers hosted the Clippers, it was going to be a big match-up, which will probably be known as the Battle of Los Angeles.
With a new Clippers' squad, this was a team that can actually compete once and for all now against the elite Lakers' squad, and they proved it in yesterday's game with a 102-94 victory, led behind Chris Paul's 33 points and six assists to bring the team's record up to 6-3. As for the Lakers, their five-game winning-streak comes to a halt as they fall to 9-5.
Kobe Bryant continued his 40-plus-point-streak to four games now after another 42-point outburst, but it just wasn't enough. Blake Griffin helped in the victory with 22 points and 14 rebounds, along with helps from the others like Chauncey Billups (19 points), Caron Butler (13 points), and DeAndre Jordan (ten rebounds). It was the Clippers second straight win over a big team. They already beat the Miami Heat, and it just makes their team even tougher now after this victory.
"It's early. We're not going to get too high with these wins," Paul said. "We definitely made strides in the right direction defensively and with rebounding. We got to make that habit and not a one-time thing."
After such a strong start now, the Clippers can finally get rid of themselves as a losing-team for the past decade. They have tried many things to get this team to the top. They tried Elton Brand, Baron Davis, and even Zach Randolph, but it just wasn't enough. Until Blake Griffin came by last year, the Clippers were starting to become a potential playoff-team for the future. After picking up Chris Paul, Los Angeles has been off to a very strong start and can now finally label themselves as winners and remove the loser name if they continue on this streak.
"It's definitely going to take time if we're going to remove that label," he said. "We don't care. We're worried about this year."
Just to think of it, Paul and Kobe were the two best performers of the night. Look closely, and those two could've been on the same team. Imagined what would have happened then. But even without Kobe for CP3, he didn't need him. The Clippers were his team now, and he showed it off tonight.
"They couldn't guard him," Billups said of Paul. "Coming off the pick-and-rolls, he was unstoppable. His shot was on point and he really caused them a lot of problems."
Los Angeles took control on basically every aspect of the ball, including the boards with an advantage of 50-42. They could not be stopped with the two-headed monster in the front-court of Griffin and Jordan.
"We talked about how they focused on the glass and they just did a terrific job on the boards," Bryant said. "Seventeen offensive rebounds is a lot of offensive rebounds. That's the area that really killed us. We did a pretty good job defensively in holding them to a low shooting percentage, but 17 offensive rebounds and 25 second-chance points, that's tough to deal with."
Bryant, as we all know, kept shooting tonight. He was 14-of-28 from the field and 12-of-14 from the charity stripe, notching down another 42 point surge. It all started in Phoenix with his 48 points, and it continued into Utah with 40. And in Cleveland: 42. He had 42 tonight, but it resulted in a loss.
"When a player of that caliber is looking to shoot that many times, he's going to make shots," Griffin said.
But even with that, you can't win, and it was proven last night.
It seemed as if, however, the Lakers would make a comeback after Bryant's heroics in the third quarter; where he scored 17 of the Lakers' last 19 points to close out the quarter trailing the Clippers, 76-72. And then Bryant brought out "The Face," which he only does so when it comes playoff-time. He was hungry, and it was only the 14th game of the season!
"I was just getting in spots to be effective and I was hitting my mid-range jumpers," Bryant said. "We were struggling and it just seemed like we were kind of dead in the water. I didn't get us off to a good start at all. I took the responsibility to try and generate some energy and try to get us back in the game. We were able to do that, but they made two big 3s to stretch it back out."
But like I said, it just wasn't enough. With that, the Clippers will host the New Jersey Nets tomorrow while the Lakers host Dallas on the same day, as they meet former-Laker Lamar Odom once and for all.
But it was one solid game, I can tell you that. I look forward to more battles. This was round one.
The Battle of Los Angeles will continue again on January 25th.
Who wants it more?
----Written by Josh Dhani, Founder (Archive/RSS)
Josh has been writing since 2009 and founded FootBasket in April 2009. He also writes at Hardcourt Mayhem and contributes to TrueHoop’s Eight Points Nine Seconds. Check him out on JoshDhani.com and follow him on Twitter @JoshDhani