The Lakers got off to a quick start, but were down by seven at half-time, and never got closer than that.
With the loss, the Lakers have fallen into ninth place, and no longer control their own destiny. If the Utah Jazz win all five of their remaining games, they will advance to the play-offs instead of the Lakers.
The key stat of today’s game was the Clippers out-rebounding the Lakers, 50-36.
Dwight Howard had a great game in some respects, scoring 25 points (8-14 FG, 9-13 FT) and blocking four shots. But, inexplicably, he pulled down only four rebounds in 38:30 of playing time, and that was the main reason the Lakers were beaten so badly on the glass.
To put those four rebounds in some context, Howard had grabbed at least 10 rebounds in 22 consecutive games coming in to today’s game. And if you need more context than that, Howard – the league’s leading rebounder – was out-rebounded by seven players in this game, including diminutive players such as Steve Blake and Chris Paul.
The Clippers also outshot the Lakers from all three distances – 50%-43% from the field, 38%-29% from beyond the arc, and 81%-73% from the line. When you allow your opponent to significantly out-rebound you and out-shoot you, you’re likely not going to win.
Unlike the Valentine’s Day Massacre, when the Clippers got out to a 15-0 lead on the Lakers and won by 24, the Lakers did do some things well today. They assisted on 25 of their 33 baskets (76%), and overcame a rough start to turn the ball over only 11 times for the game.
The Lakers also had some solid individual performances. Pau Gasol nearly had a triple-double with 12 points (6-11 FG, 0-2 FT), 13 rebounds and eight dimes. Kobe Bryant also flirted with a triple-double, with 25 points (6-19 FG, 1-5 3PT, 12-14 FT), 10 assists, and seven rebounds.
Steve Nash missed his third full game (and has now missed significant parts of five straight games) with his strained right hamstring. Hamstring injuries are tricky because if a player comes back before the hamstring is fully healed, there is a very real risk he will re-injure it, and be back to square one in the recovery process.
And yet, the Lakers have put themselves in a position where they no longer control their own fate. With Steve Blake and Jodie Meeks each turning in another middling performance today, it’s my guess that Steve Nash – ready-or-not – will play in the Lakers’ next game.
The Utah Jazz play later today at Golden State, and a Jazz loss would put the Lakers right back into eighth place. However, a Jazz win would solidify their hold on eighth place.
It’s unfortunate, but the Lakers are going to need some help to make the play-offs, and today they’re hoping the Warriors can lend a hand.
Lakers’ Player of the Game
The Lakers’ Player of the Game was once again Pau Gasol.
Gasol had another strong all-around game, this time flirting with a triple-double. He scored 12 points (6-11 FG, 0-2 FT), grabbed 13 rebounds, and dished out eight assists for the game.
Top Two Tweets in My Twitter Feed
“Don’t worry, Lakers start a back-to-back on Tuesday.” – @DrewGarrisonSBN, post-game tweet
“Half the Staples crowd tried getting a ‘Sweep’ chant started, but failed because the other half are Lakers fans. AK.” – @KamBrothers, late-game tweet.
Tuesday, April 9, vs. the New Orleans Hornets, 7:30 p.m. PDT