Clippers push injury-riddled Lakers closer to play-in tournament with blowout victory
With LeBron James, Dennis Schroder and Talen Horton-Tucker, who paused for the Lakers, the Los Angeles Clippers already had a substantial benefit on Thursday. Things received worse for the Lakers when Anthony Davis was disfellowshipped for again cramps. With so many core Lakers, the Clippers walked away unsurprisingly with a straightforward 118-94 win over their cross-arena rivals.
The win marks the primary time for the reason that 2015/16 season that the Clippers have gained the season with the Lakers. In whole, it has solely occurred 4 occasions in staff historical past, and the rating displays this newfound energy construction in Los Angeles. While the Clippers virtually achieved a high four beginning place within the Western Conference and the related residence benefit within the first spherical, the Lakers are solely combating to keep away from the warm-up spherical. With one other defeat within the books for the defending champions, we’re beginning the takeaways tonight.
Play-in right here we come
The almighty Lakers, who defend NBA champions and are nonetheless Vegas favorites to win the Western Conference, are formally shut to play-in. The defeat, the 29th of the season, linked them to the Portland Trail Blazers within the total standings. These two groups do not have to wait lengthy to settle the invoice. They play on Friday. James and Schroder are seemingly to miss this sport. There’s no telling whether or not Davis or Horton-Tucker will too. The winner is not going to solely win one sport over the opposite within the total standings, however may even earn the tiebreaker. Functionally, because of this the winner has a lead of 1.5 video games over the loser in lower than two weeks.
In different phrases, the Lakers have to get into the concept they will seemingly have to use the warm-up spherical to begin their championship protection. That’s not the worst factor on this planet for her, all in all. If nothing else, they’d most likely reasonably play Phoenix or Utah within the first spherical than the Clippers. It would give them an additional excessive leverage sport or two to assist them discover their rhythm. It’s not supreme, however worse fortunes exist right here.
But for the clippers? This is a dream come true. Last season they have been eradicated earlier than they even confronted the Lakers. This season, it might be the Lakers who have been knocked out forward of a Clippers streak. The Lakers decimated their non-Clippers opponents en route to the championship final season. Now the Clippers might need an opportunity to do the identical.
Old buddies turn out to be new enemies
The additional wrinkle on this yr’s Lakers-Clippers rivalry is the gamers shifting from one locker room to one other. On paper, the Lakers received the higher finish of the shuffle. With the signing of Montrezl Harrell, each of them occupied a backup middle area that DeMarcus Cousins may have taken and held on to forestall them from re-signing Rajon Rondo. Harrell is the youngest of the three. He can also be the reigning sixth man of the yr.
Still, on this case, he was performed out by each former Lakers. Cousins who’re a number of inches and practically 30 kilos on Harrell bullied him on a 5-out-of-Eight evening of capturing on the publish. Rondo added 11 factors and 5 assists, and whereas Harrell ended the evening with 14 factors, they principally got here in rubbish time. The Lakers have been outscored by six factors with Harrell on the bottom. That has turn out to be a worrying pattern.
In 18 video games for the reason that Lakers signed Andre Drummond, Harrell has been unfavorable plus-minus 12 occasions for a complete of minus 69. Although his score is effective, he has confirmed to be precisely the high-maintenance participant he was on the Clippers. He’s an awesome defender and wishes the ball to be efficient. The Lakers at the moment are battling by means of these points whereas the Clippers have loved how simply Rondo blends in significantly nicely with their current construction. He and cousins make much less cash collectively than Harrell for the Lakers. Right now the Clippers appear to be making the association higher.
What a distinction a yr makes
The Lakers-Clippers rivalry has been a microcosm of the league’s largest tales for the previous two seasons. Last season was concerning the Redemption of LeBron and the Battle of Los Angeles. The two groups performed 4 groups. All 4 have been determined in single digits. Two got here to the final two properties. The Lakers misplaced the primary two however gained the second two, referring to James’ early Los Angeles bouts and subsequent success.
This season? We have by no means seen the Lakers and Clippers enjoying in opposition to one another at full velocity. The opening evening was the subsequent we got here, and within the final two video games, James and Davis performed 9 minutes collectively. The story of this season was accidents on a shortened schedule. The league paid the worth for this schedule by sacrificing marquee video games. Those unbelievable Lakers-Clippers battles from final yr are a distant reminiscence. The finest we are able to hope for in 2021 is a wholesome rematch within the playoffs.