Los Angeles Clippers- 103
Los Angeles Lakers- 116
For one night anyway, the “Hallway Rivalry” between the Clippers and Lakers became a laugher when the Lakers bench punished the Clipper starters in the fourth quarter to the tune of 41 points and 76 total points on a night from the reserves as the Lakers rolled to a 116-103 ‘unexpected’ win.
Not many people expected this young Kobe-less Lakers team to show up on opening night and beat a Clippers ball club many picked to contend for a Western Conference championship.
This is not the same Lakers team of 2012-13… this team is younger, quicker, more athletic, and playing with energy. No expectations… just play the game.
“It’s not a bad thing to be the underdog sometimes,” said Lakers’ Jodie Meeks. “No expectations. We go out there and play hard. What’s the worst that can happen? We lose, and people say we’re no good?”
Not one Laker starter played in the fourth quarter as coach Mike D’Antoni elected to stay with his bench and they responded to the tune of 41 points scored to the Clippers 24.
“Mike (D’Antoni) did a great thing: He didn’t bring his starters back in.” Rivers said. “There was a point where I was thinking: ‘Please bring them back in.”
Xavier Henry led all players with 22-points (12 in the fourth quarter).
“We’re a deep team, and people don’t think we’re that good,” Henry said. “That always fuels us. People are saying we’re going to finish 12th or whatever, but we have a great group of guys who go out there and play hard. We’re young, we’re athletic. We go after it.”
All the talk coming in to the game was about the Clippers finally being “the team” in L.A. New coach in Doc Rivers, new faces, new attitude, new identity, high expectations. But, it was the Lakers who were not quite ready to relinquish the title of “L.A.’s Team.”
‘We were not ready tonight,” said Rivers. “(The Lakers) have heard for probably the last two months how good (the Clippers) were going to be… so you knew that they were going to play like this was the world championship—with that type of energy. And I thought we never matched it. Everything they did was harder than us and more physical than us. They destroyed us on the glass and destroyed us in turnovers. So it was a good lesson for us.”
The Clippers swept the Lakers last season winning all four.
“You’ve got to give it to them. They outplayed us,” Griffin said. “They did a good job. They were ready. They turned up the heat in the fourth quarter and didn’t respond.”
“Oh, man, it seemed like it happened so fast,” Clippers’ Chris Paul said. “Those guys executed their game plan, and when you’re missing somebody like Kobe, you feed off that energy”
For tonight at least and ‘til next time… the Lakers own the bragging rights.
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By Mario Martinez – WonderPunter