After so many different kinds of wins, Lob City style was what the Los Angeles Clippers needed from Blake Griffin and Chris Paul to get back on track while putting another stamp on their dominance in the city rivalry with the sad looking Los Angeles Lakers.
How fun was it? A career-high 11 of Paul’s 13 assists came on layups or dunks inside the restricted area. Paul is the NBA leader in that category this season with 160, 31 ahead of Andre Miller.
All the talk of Clippers dominance and taking over the city might not show up when you do fan polls in the streets, but there’s no denying it on the basketball court. The Los Angeles Clippers are a team. The Los Angeles Lakers are still just a bunch of players that seem as lost and confused as they were in the beginning of the season, regardless of the head coach. Kobe Bryant keeps putting up the big numbers (finishing with 38 points), but it doesn’t seem to make any difference on whether the Lakers player well or bad, win or lose.
After much of their 17 game winning streak was about hard defense and the depth of their bench, this win, a 107-102 victory which had the Clippers easing off in the fourth quarter, was about their two best players playing to their strengths and paving the way. Chris Paul was all over the place, no matter if he was guarded by Steve Nash or Kobe Bryant. He finished with 30 points, 13 assists and 2 steals. Not just the alley oops and dunks. He kept the game at a pace the Lakers couldn’t catch up with, especially on defense.
Blake Griffin couldn’t have asked for better shots. He finished with 24 points and 5 rebounds, finishing with 9-16. When the Lakers defense kept focusing on him, DeAndre Jordan came up from behind and finished with 8 points, 9 rebounds and a few memorable dunk. For once, no one from the bench needed to rise and score more than 8 points. They still outscored the Lakers’ bench 30-27.
It’s more than just a young and old issue. The Lakers have one of their key players, Pau Gasol, playing worse than an undrafed rookie. Gasol finished with 2 points and 4 rebounds, spending only 27 minutes on the floor. If anyone looked too slow and out of his place in this game, it was the two-time NBA champion and his -20 during his time on the floor.
Dwight Howard fouled out, Metta World Peace fouled out. Those trying to play defense and cover for others can’t do it on their own, but behind Howard’s pretty numbers (21 points, 15 rebounds) hides a lot of frustration on himself and from others towards him. Just like the rest of the team, the Lakers thought they will see something else from the so-called best center in the NBA.
Right now we’re just focused on being one of the best teams in the league, not just the city. Focus can’t be just to be better than one team. Now we’re trying to be great.
And maybe that says it all. The Lakers tried to go big in the summer, and ended up fighting to claw their way back to .500 through a lot of problems that have to do with basketball and beyond. The Clippers are way past that, not even worried about ruling the city, which they are almost taking for granted. They’re thinking about NBA titles.