Despite the Lakers’ efforts in rallying back from down 17, guard Reggie Jackson carried the Clippers to a 111-110 win over their hallway rivals.
By Edward Segal, Valley Life Editor
The Clippers took game two of the season series against their rivals after a crazy sequence involving an alley-oop, a five-second violation and multiple threes led to guard Reggie Jackson banking in the game-winning layup over the outstretched arm of Lakers guard Malik Monk.
With the Los Angeles Clippers (27-27) down Kawhi Leonard and Paul George and the Lakers without LeBron James, this matchup provided a perfect opportunity for both teams to turn around their less than ideal seasons. Despite their momentum from coming off a victory against the Portland Trailblazers, the Los Angeles Lakers (25-28) proved again that their formula for building a team with an average age of 30 does not work in the NBA. The Clippers, who have a balance between the old and the young, managed to climb back to .500 by beating their Crypto.com Arena roommates 111-110 without their all-stars available to play.
The biggest factor in the Clippers' win demonstrated to be their ability to score in multiple ways, whether it was Jackson creating for himself, forward Marcus Morris burying triples or center Serge Ibaka dominating the paint. The Lakers’ lack of consistent scoring powered the Clippers’ runs and gave them enough of an advantage to win.
After a back-and-forth first half that saw Jackson bury a three to put the Clippers up by six at halftime, the Clippers cruised to a 17-point lead in the third, making the game seem all but over.
Trailing by 12 points at the start of the fourth quarter, the Lakers did not go away despite losing one of their leading scorers, forward Carmelo Anthony to a strained right hamstring at the end of the first half. The purple and gold-trimmed the deficit to three, but Jackson kept generating buckets to keep them at bay.
With 2:30 left and the Clippers up 104-97, Lakers guard Russell Westbrook hit his only 3-pointer of the game to cut the lead to four points - keeping the comeback alive.
The Clippers tried to run the time down, but when the ball was knocked away with seconds on the shot clock, Jackson was forced to heave a shot from half-court. Luckily, Morris was there to bail him out with an offensive rebound.
Clippers coach Tyronn Lue called a timeout to regroup his team after the wild sequence, with it seeming like the Lakers missed their chance to get a stop and cut the lead further.
The Lakers’ defensive pressure on the inbound pass forced the Clippers into a five-second violation instead of burning their final timeout to stop the call from occurring. Monk then tipped the ball in off his own missed shot and was fouled, putting the Lakers down by one.
On the next possession, Westbrook pulled up and hit an 11-foot shot, but Jackson responded to put the Clippers back up by a point. With less than 50 seconds left, Monk buried a long three from the top of the key as the shot clock was expiring, making the Lakers roar back to life once again.
Their excitement did not last long, as forward Marcus Morris nailed a contested corner triple to give the Clippers a 109-108 lead with 18 seconds remaining.
It seemed that the Lakers had the game in the bag, however, when Westbrook sent an alley-oop to center Anthony Davis for a monster jam that sent the game to a crazy finish.
But Jackson proved to be the most valuable player of the game when he banked in a floater to put the Clippers on top with four seconds left. Davis’ missed floater at the buzzer was a metaphor for his struggles as a de facto leader this season, despite the stats saying otherwise.
Davis dropped 30 points, 17 rebounds and two blocks but was not as dominant as he should have been, looking worn down at times with his hobbling up and down the court.
While the Clippers could just wait for their stars to get healthy, the Lakers have a chance to make moves at the deadline, ideally for youth and two-way players willing to do the dirty work, if they want to keep their chance at contending in the Western conference alive.
The teams will meet next on Feb. 25 at Crypto.com Arena.