Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

And this is why Phil Jackson wasn’t impressed with the team’s 7-game winning streak. Expectations for this Lakers team are high, as they should be, so a winning stretch against mostly sub-par teams was nice, but not remarkable. The theme over the last few weeks, however, was that the Lakers were finally starting to find their groove, playing more focused basketball, trying out a revamped defensive system, etc. But just when they appeared to have turned a real corner in all areas that needed improvement, they came into today’s game and simply went back a step.

After one quarter, the Lakers were fortunate to be down only by five points, considering they shot just 39% to the Clippers’ 52%. They met resistance in multiples each time they came close to the hoop, and their defense was ineffective, with the Clippers beating them 14-8 in points in the paint and the threeball falling for the home team. Despite Blake Griffin’s three fouls in the first half, the Clippers fared more than just well against the Lakers.

They rebounded aplenty, refusing to allow the Lakers more than one chance at scoring and the Lakers put up little resistance, grabbing just 11 offensive rebounds. Pau Gasol (13 points on 5-7, eight rebounds) and Lamar Odom (10 points on 4-8, six rebounds), typically rebounding hoarders, had a combined three offensive rebounds in today’s game. THREE.

Going into the third quarter, Kobe Bryant (27 points on 8-17, nine rebounds, five assists) had just eight points, but as he’d done before, went off on a 14-point scoring run that put the Lakers up 67-55 on a three-pointer. Bryant got everything he wanted with a smaller Eric Gordon guarding him. He scored on fadeaway after fadeway, each time taking the momentum with him. It appeared, at that point, that the Lakers were setting the table for their winning finale. Instead, they got served with plates full of feisty.

Blake Griffin (18 points on 7-20, 15 rebounds, three assists) had just two points when the Clippers went down 12. His long streak of double-doubles and his team in jeopardy of losing, he simply bucked up and played and it paid off. He hit a pair of free throws, scored on a hook shot, dunked and with the help of Eric Gordon (30 points on 13-20, six assists, four steals), cut the double-digit deficit to just three points before the final quarter. With Gordon’s buzzer-beating corner three, the Clippers closed the third with all the momentum. They simply out-hustled, out-played, and just plain out-energized the defending champions.

Before the fourth quarter, John Ireland noted that Phil Jackson specifically told the team to get in Eric Gordon’s way. Gordon, for his part, absolutely torched the Lakers. Whether he went against Ron Artest, Kobe Bryant or Shannon Brown, it was no matter. He still managed to hit two wide-open threes and a dunk in the fourth, negating the Lakers’ efforts to hold on to however small a lead they had to begin the final quarter.

Andrew Bynum was the only other bright spot, other than Kobe Bryant, in this game. He scored 18 points on 7-11, grabbed 13 rebounds and blocked three shots. Had Pau Gasol or Lamar Odom had a similar contribution, this game might’ve ended in the Lakers’ favor.

Add this to the list of losses that should never have happened. The Lakers played their way out of their 31st win tonight, and with just over five seconds of game time left, added insult to injury when Lamar Odom and Ron Artest (along with Blake Griffin and Baron Davis) were ejected after a non-situation turned into more (caused by Davis’ unnecessary need to appear like the leader of this Clippers team).

Much more challenging competition awaits this Lakers team. Let today’s game be just another lesson on the art of closing out your opponents.

Box Score
Pre-game Thoughts:
The Clippers beat Miami because the win clearly meant more to them than the Heat. The Lakers better not make the same mistake Miami did.
Half-time Thoughts: 45-44 – It’s been a hard-fought game for both teams, with the Lakers playing catch-up for a good part of the game, the switching leads. Neither team is shooting efficiently, but the Lakers are getting to the free throw line to stay close. Blake Griffin has been contained due to foul trouble (has 3 already), but Pau Gasol shot just 3-8, meeting multiple defenders each time he’s by the basket. Gasol leads the Lakers with 11 points but is only 3-8. Eric Gordon leads all scores with 13 points. Lakers also need to limit the Clippers’ second chance points.
Most Thoughtless Player(s) of the Game: Pau Gasol – Blake Griffin was playing with three fouls and had produced just eight points coming into the fourth quarter and Gasol simply allowed him to make up for it. Yes, defense is a team effort, and no, Gasol isn’t a defensive stopper, but DO SOMETHING to take Griffin out of the game. Draw fouls, keep a body on him Honorable mention – Baron Davis, for escalating a non-situation into four ejections with just over five seconds left in the game.
Most Thought-filled Player(s) of the Game: L.A. Clippers, for refusing to be intimidated

  • richard

    Seem like Lakers falling off sleep this game, kobe needs to make to crucial shots.

  • lakerfan

    this game was embarrasing

  • Binky

    How was Kobe a bright spot in the game? He didn’t make a single point in the 4th. ALl this 4th quater points came after the game was already decided.

    • lakersallthewayy

      yeah kobe did make shots in the 4th..

    • LMAO

      LOL i thought the game plan was pound the ball inside! isnt that what you idiot lakers fans want? i thought kobe taking over was a bad thing in that retard phil’s eyes? (rewatch the game and see that he didn’t shoot at all in the 4th until the game was already out of hand)…make up your mind idiots, do you want soft ass pau and only interior play or do you want kb? IDIOTS!!!

      • Timmy

        The game plan is to inside out, but Kobe is supposed to close out the game. Listen to Phil. He said thats how we win games, by having Kobe close out games. But in this he just dissapred at the end.

  • juanv

    I am sorry but d fish needs to retire this guy is worthless atleast sit his ass out until the playoffs he is killling the whole team

  • David

    I’m still waiting to see if the Lakers can win a meaningful game this season. The lakers have won 30 games and of those wins only 4 of them are against teams above .500. We have had a very soft schedule and every time we have gotten tested (jazz, spurs, nuggets) we have lost.

  • andy

    whats new? lakers play at clippers and get crapped on. happens every year. lakers will blow them out when its at lakers like every year. lakers would sweep the clips in the playoffs if they could even make it. move on to the next game

  • Green goblin

    What a punk move by Odumb!

  • Tyler

    Well. This was a bit of an embarrassment, however last time they played we barley got out a win. I just hope the didn’t lose a lot of momentum, as they now have to play some tough games (Thunder, Mavs, Spurs, Celtics, etc…)

  • Lakeshow2go

    Lakers losing to the Clippers who are a way below .500 team? = FAIL We all know that the Lakers do better in the playoffs but if they’re gonna be half hearted about games like this, maybe they should stay in the locker room and pop a beer. >.< Last few games, Pau and Andrew look like they just stare at the ball, trying to get rebounds with they're hands in their pockets. Maybe if they jump to meet the ball they may get more rebounds?

  • gameplan

    I’m tired of Lakers losing with a sub .500 teams, I’ll be back on play-offs.

  • Fuck_That

    Damn, this Lakers team is pissing me off.
    They need to play better and there is no excuse to lose to teams like the Clippers, even if they play well.
    Truth the matter I don’t care much for HCA but Lakers need to assert themselves as the champions or when comes the playoffs we will lose big time possibly not passing the first round.
    Right now the rest of the league has not much respect for us.
    We better start beating the elite teams in the regular season to put some doubts in their minds. (Boston, Miami, Orlando, Denver, SA, OKC, Dallas, Chicago and Utah).
    If we keep losing, I don’t see we 3peating.

    • Eric Tione

      The league doesnt respect us for three main reasons

      1. NBA loves to have storylines, no storylines no ratings. Dont it look cool that the clipps can beat the elite teams but mail it in when they play teams like the kings and nets. Underdogs always rule.

      2. NBA officiating as been down right horrendous all season. AB has been getting the worst of it, I guess the refs are tired of picking on Kobe. I know my fellow lakers brotha’s and sista’s can agree that those calls, called on one side of the floor is definitely not called on the other side(only in LA for some reason). Plus all the RANDOM T’s need to be looked at by the players union. Showing alittle emotion or passion gets you fined and your team penalized????? David Stern=Slave Driver

      3. Pau refuses to play any kind of defense. His hands are always down on defense, knees never bent ready to move for a pick and roll. I dont know if hes saving his engery for offense or what. When night in an night out little ass guards, are pounding the paint using and abusing Pau. Who just stands there not making any effort to block or at least alter their shots theres something wrong. Bynum coming off injury his playing with my heart, passion, and fire then Pau.

      Lakers can 3peat, If somebody on the coaching staff can light a fire under pau ass.

  • LMAO

    pau “the mvp” (LMAO) sure shows up EVERY GAME! thank goodness for the queen of spain!!!

  • Ikjyot Singh Kohli

    It comes down to this people. And this season is more telling than ever:

    1. D-Fish is to slow to cover any of the new young point guards in the NBA. Even though Baron Davis is not a young guard anymore, he certainly had his way with Fisher, as all the new young guards seem to be doing. The other Lakers guards can’t defend, Shannon or Steve Blake.

    2. i’ve been saying in this forum for 2 years now, how we have put Andrew Bynum on a false pedestal. Baron Davis blocking Bynum was case in point yesterday. The problem is that Bynum doesn’t understand his role. Gasol is supposed to score the post points, Bynum is suppose to play post-defense, he doesn’t, instead he scores against people that are smaller than him, and we all get ecstatic over that. Bynum in his entire career has NEVER EVER done well against a post player of equal size, Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, Chris Kaman, etc… Don’t take my word for it, watch the sequences.

    3. Lamar Odom can’t play defense. He can score, great, most of the Lakers can, but the comparison of Lamar to Scottie Pippen is ridiculous, as Pippen was a lock-down defender, Odom is not.

    The bottom line is that Kobe Bryant is the ONLY laker on that team that can play lock-down defense, and this is another season where he is being asked to do everything, defend the guards, (tell me, what is Ron Artest’s purpose), score 40 points a game, and if you couldn’t tell, he physically cannot be that 81 point a game Kobe anymore, NOR SHOULD HE HAVE TO!

    • Sir

      Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t Bynum have his 42 & 15 game against Kaman?? I don’t think Bynum is playing bad at all this season, and the refs really seem to have it out for him. That being said, I would trade him in order to get Dwight Howard in a heartbeat. It’s Pau’s bitchass that’s really been pissing me off lately. The guy has been playing softer than wet tissue, it’s pretty pathetic how smaller guys always abuse him and how he has stopped playing D this season. Pau for Blake Griffin and Bynum for Dwight. Imagine that haha

    • Sir

      Also Kobe hasn’t played any lockdown defense for years now. If you’ve watched him the past couple of years you will notice that he always leaves his man to go roam around and double whoever gets the ball, and take an awkard swipe (and miss) at that same person, leaving his man wide open for many uncontested 3’s. Kobe hasn’t played d for a while now, and only makes the defensive team based on his reputation

  • Eidraq

    Pau cannot get a pass anymore. I dont give a rat’s ass if he’s not a defensive stopper. Until he buys into playing defense in the paint most of the time and not 1 out of 7 possessions, he’s not getting any more praise for me.

    Clippers got all the stops in the middle of the fourth quarter when the Lakers planned to “feed the bigs.” If the game is close, please Phil, don’t try to keep the ball out of Kobe’s hands until the game is decided. Kobe had not taken a shot or tried setting up a single player until the game was well out of reach. Bad play calling by Phil this game. He knows he’s better than letting his favoratism for Pau get in the way of winning.

  • DCLakeshow

    SERIOUSLY…Pau has stop flopping and play some defense. If he truly wants to be mentioned with some of the best big men, he better start playing a little more physical than he has. AND as far as Phil…I’m not one to question the man with the most NBA championship rings, but this team doesn’t look like it’s being coached…AT ALL. No strategy, no gameplanning, just letting his vets do what they’ve always done. This is a league of “what have you done for me lately,” and all of those bad habits eventually catch up to you.

  • xtro

    until the clippers win a championship, this win is insignificant in my opinion.