The Clippers beat the short-handed Lakers 104-86 in a dreadfully boring nationally televised contest that featured the debut of Rajon Rondo. Keep reading for a full recap of the Clippers’ win over the Lakers.
The early first quarter was a good example of how sometimes, making shots is all that matters. The Clippers didn’t move the ball particularly well and didn’t take good shots, but made all of their first five attempts to seize an early 10-2 lead. As the quarter went along, they were able to maintain their lead through solid defense, even though their offense mostly sputtered. Rajon Rondo made his Clippers debut, entering alongside Terance Mann with 5 minutes left. He immediately tried to push the pace, which resulted in a nice three for Batum, but also had several awful giveaways. Overall, the Clippers didn’t play that great, but were mostly just superior to the bricking Lakers.
Luke Kennard started the 2nd period over Rondo, who had a minutes restriction. The Clippers’ offense continued to putter along, getting just enough shots from Paul George and Mann to get a double digit advantage. Their defense was the real winner, however, especially when Ivica Zubac came back for Patrick Patterson – almost every Lakers’ shot was contested, and they had to work to get looks off at all. While the Clippers’ offense never really picked up, their defense allowed them to push the lead to 20. Unfortunately, a quick 5-0 spurt by the Lakers to close the half cut the lead down to a more manageable 15.
The third quarter was nearly as uneventful as a quarter of basketball between two rivals and contenders can be. The Clippers’ defense remained strong, the Lakers continued to look unable of stringing together multiple scores, and both teams had a lot of sloppy turnovers and poor shot attempts. The only items of note were Kawhi leaving for a few minutes after an elbow from Kuzma gave him a bloody lip, and Rondo grabbing at his hip after a layup and being subbed out for Kennard at the next timeout. Outside of that, all was as it had been the first two quarters, and the Clippers’ lead sat at 22.
While the 4th quarter was not quite garbage time, the Lakers never really felt in it. They were able to push the lead back down to 15 with about 6:30 to go, mostly behind a stretch of Montrezl Harrell and Talen Horton-Tucker scoring against the non-existent rim protection of Patterson. But Zu then entered the game, Kawhi hit a couple jumpers, and everything was all wrapped up. The Clippers won 104-86 in a game that wasn’t even that close, a nice victory in one of the most dull games of the year.
Defense Plays Great: The Lakers without LeBron James and Anthony Davis are a terrible offensive team with almost no shot creation or playmaking. That said, holding an NBA team to 86 points in 2021 is impressive, and the Clippers’ defense was good throughout. They rotated well, contested shots (mostly without fouling), and generated 10 steals. With this performance, they will enter the top 10 in terms of defensive efficiency, and that rise largely coincides with Ivica Zubac’s jump in minutes and role. It’s been said a million times, but it will be said again – he needs to be playing 28+ minutes every game, even when Serge Ibaka returns.
Rondo Provides Inconsistent Debut: Rajon Rondo only played 13 minutes in this one, and while he had a minutes restriction, the game being a blowout and that hip discomfort in the 3rd quarter might have limited him more than otherwise. Ultimately, he was a mixed bag. His ability to push the pace and get out and run was nice, and he had a couple steals where he nicely read passing lanes. However, he was clearly not much a threat to score (2 points on 1-3 shooting) and also had four turnovers, three of them coming in the late 1st quarter to keep the Lakers in it. The energy and effort was there though, which was nice to see considering how poor he’s been in the regular season over the past couple years. It will be interesting to monitor his minutes as he gets more acclimated – one assumes that he will just stay in to start the 2nd quarter, and the Luke Kennard minutes will disappear, but maybe he starts and Luke plays over Reggie Jackson.
Pat Pat Unplayable: The Clippers will probably sign DeMarcus Cousins tomorrow if he passes his COVID-19 tests, and while Cousins has been pretty bad this year, he will hopefully be an improvement over Patrick Patterson. It’s hard to be too tough on Pat Pat, who plays a tough role (be ready to play legit minutes on occasion, and sit on the pine for 10+ games in a row), and is a nice veteran presence, but he just offers nothing on defense. And on games like today where he’s off as a shooter (1-5 from field, 0-3 from deep in non-garbage minutes) he simply brings nothing. As mentioned throughout the recap, the Lakers’ runs were largely tied to when Zubac was on the bench for the Clippers – and when Patterson was in. Patterson was a nice little surprise last season, but he should not play any rotation minutes the rest of the year.
That about does it for this recap of the Clippers’ 104-86 victory over the Lakers on ABC. Give your thoughts on the game below!