Five things to take from Lakers' 102-94 loss to the Clippers
1. The Lakers looked tired during their 102-94 loss Saturday to the Clippers. Chalk it up to a variety of reasons. The Lakers have played a league-high 13 games. The Clippers have played league-low eight games. The Lakers feature an old and aging players. The Clippers feature a young and energetic group. Add all those factors in, and it's a clear reason why the Clippers outrebounded the Lakers, 50-42 overall and 17-11 on the offensive glass. With how much the Lakers are already at a disadvantage keeping up with a quicker team, they can't afford to minimize their scoring opportunities, while allowing the Clippers to maximize theirs. Overall, however, this definitely brings into question to what degree Lakers Coach Mike Brown needs to pace his players so they're not so tired. The Lakers appeared more energy in the second half, but hardly rectified a sluggish first.
2. Kobe Bryant lived and died by his shot en route to 42 points on 14-of-28 shooting. Criticize him for throwing up too many shots that were off-balance. Few of his first-half shots (three of 12) proved warranted since many of them were off-balance fadeaways. Credit him for somehow replicating that by doing what he does best: shoot. By maintaining that aggressiveness, Bryant helped the Lakers get back into the game in the second half with 21 third-quarter points.
Bryant clearly overcame his initial shooting woes. So that's not much of an issue. What's more of an issue is that the Lakers lacked much offensive structure. Despite Bryant's relentless double teams, neither Pau Gasol nor Andrew Bynum looked efficient in running the floor. But it shows that the Lakers lacked much of any offensive cohesion.
3. Darius Morris thrown into the fire. Whether it was Chris Paul beating him off the dribble or Blake Griffin cheap shotting him, Morris surely had a lot to handle. Considering the usual rookie mistakes, Morris still maintained his confidence in running the floor and knowing the schemes en route to a seven-point effort on two-of-three shooting and four assists in 24 minutes. For good measure, Morris immediately rectified Paul's one-on-one basket by making a half-court shot to close out the first quarter.
4. The Lakers bench provides little to offer. They missed a real opportunity on exploiting the Clippers' reserve unit. The only problem: the Lakers hardly have much to feature within their reserve unit. They're without Steve Blake for at least three weeks because of a rib/sternum injury. Josh McRoberts' hustle and energy hardly provided the same impact as he had provided before he toe injury. Troy Murphy is slow and can't find a shot. Metta World Peace hardly provides any leadership and doesn't find shots in the post as he originally did.
5. The Lakers and Clippers don't like each other. Griffin cheap shots Morris, but they give Brown a technical for acting upset about it. The Clippers surround World Peace during a loose ball after he accidentally elbows Paul in the head. Morris gets a technical after getting in a near scrum. And the Clippers absolutely mauled Matt Barnes without much help from the officials. Yup, this would be one physical playoff series, but one the officials need to do a better job in controlling.
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Photo: Clippers power forward Blake Griffin is fouled by Lakers power forward Pau Gasol during the game Saturday night at Staples Center. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times