The Clippers dominated a depleted Lakers team to earn a season sweep for the first time since the 2015-2016 season. Let’s take a look at how the players performed and what grades they earned.
CLIPPERS STARTER GRADES
Reggie Jackson: B+. Great shooting guards minutes from Reggie this game as he operated as mostly an off-ball, catch-and-shoot ace tonight — exactly what the Clippers need from him. I thought he really played within the offense and cut back on the “oh no, Reggie” moments quite a bit. Also worth mentioning is that Reggie has been serviceable on defense as of late. He won’t be confused for Patrick Beverley, but his ability to be no worse than a neutral has allowed for Pat and Rondo to keep their minutes down. With 10 points and 4 rebounds with two threes on 57% shooting, he earns a “Good Reggie” in this one.
Paul George: A-. A well-rounded game for Paul George, as both he and Kawhi kickstarted the drumming of the Lakers from the jump. He had his hand in just about every facet of the offense — facilitating out of the dribble drive, crashing the defensive glass, and scoring at every level. Defensively, he did a good job of staying connected to some of the Lakers’ shooters and not having mental slippage on defense, which is easy to have in a lopsided game. But he wasn’t perfect. PG had 5 turnovers — which dings his grade a bit. Otherwise, Paul had a good game and was able to keep his minutes low. 24/7/5 for him on the night.
Kawhi Leonard: B+. What we’ve seen from Kawhi in his recent return to the court is somewhat reminiscent of what he was giving us early in the season. Many are calling for him to be more aggressive offensively, but honestly, he seems to be enabling his teammates. Kawhi has taken the backseat for the most part — letting PG cook, Rondo run the offense, and for Ty Lue’s offense to move through its sets, all while flourishing as a passer. This is exactly what he did throughout the entirety of the game while preserving energy and working his way back into game shape. It’s a little bit frustrating in losses, but I enjoy the process. It feels so different than last year. He managed 15 points and 8 rebounds while earning 6 assists in a variety of ways. Like PG, his five turnovers were worthy of a knock on his grade.
Marcus Morris Sr.: B+. Mook’s performance was very similar to Reggie’s — he played his role as an elite catch-and-shoot floor spacer while being serviceable on defense. For the iso-ball watchers, Morris Sr. was opportunistic in his post-ups tonight as he only really operated on the smaller Alex Caruso — whom he cooked. If we see the Lakers again, it’ll be interesting to see what he looks like as the primary defender on Anthony Davis for a full game, which he avoided tonight. However, that’s neither here nor there, A good showing for the twin that is better at basketball than the other.
Ivica Zubac: A. To put it shortly, Ivica Zubac was the best big on the floor all night by a wide margin. I really don’t need to say much more than that, but I suppose I should. Zu frustrated Drummond throughout the night as Andre forced up some bad-looking shots near the rim, and Zu provided his usual team defense as a rim deterrent. He also was a man amongst boys on offense — finishing everything at and on the rim with power. Simply put, he looked younger, faster, sprier, and played harder than the other bigs. Maybe the best Clipper on the night. He ended with 14 points, 8 rebounds, and a block.
CLIPPERS BENCH PLAYER GRADES
DeMarcus Cousins: B+. If Zu was the best available big throughout the night maybe Boogie was second? Sounds weird to say in the year 2021, but it’s where we’re at. Cousins started the game going to work on Montrezl Harrell before capping off his 11-point half with a transition dunk (off of a steal) and catch-and-shoot three. He didn’t do much more than that as the game was pretty much decided by the time he saw action in the second half, though he did struggle a bit guarding Trezz as he went full-on iso-mode. The Boogie experience is always fun and should continue to be as he seems to have leap-frogged PatPat as the backup big.
Rajon Rondo. B+: Passing — check. Finishing at the rim — check. Made jump shots — check. Rondo checked the three most important boxes when examining his performance, and did it without trying to overly-manage the game. He helped keep the lead large while both stars were off the court — that’s good enough for me on almost any night. Also, he seemed to work a little better with Luke’s spacing as opposed to Terance’s. We’ll keep an eye on that.
Nicolas Batum: A-. Very, very, very good Nico game. In typical fashion, he didn’t stuff the stat sheet (5points, 6 rebounds, 1 assist), but his presence and energy were felt everywhere on the court. It was one of his better cutting to the basket games since early in the season — he made himself available time and time again for some non-threes. He was also quite good with his activity on the glass; making extra efforts to outwork Laker players. Let’s hope Nico continues to trend upward down the stretch.
Patrick Beverley: B. The second-unit pairing with Pat and Rondo looked much better against the Lakers than it did against the Raptors. For Pat personally, he looked about as expected in just his second game back from injury — slightly slow on his reactions and a little awkward with some of his decision-making on offense. But his jump shot looks fine — important, and he looks healthy — more important. Wasn’t the best version of Pat in this game, but he’ll get there.
Luke Kennard: B-. A surprise appearance in the rotation today, Luke filled the Terance Mann minutes. His visibility was off and on throughout his 16 minutes, but his biggest contribution to the game was the spacing he provided for the rest of the bench unit to operate — something that had been awkward in recent games. Despite his minimal contributions to the stat sheet, he certainly didn’t hurt the team in any way, and for that, he earns a slightly above-average grade.
Terance Mann, Daniel Oturu, and Yogi Ferrell played 4 minutes of garbage time, while Patrick Patterson was the only healthy Clipper to not see the court. Amir Coffey missed the game due to the NBA’s health and safety protocols, and Serge Ibaka remained out with a back injury.