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The Road Is a Cruel Mistress for Lakers and Clippers
I honestly can’t say which was worse: the Lakers’ 106-101 come-from-ahead loss to the Washington Wizards or the Clippers’ come-from-behind-only-to-lose-anyhow 101-100 loss against the New Jersey Nets. Both losses were on the road against inferior teams, and both the Lakers and Clippers aren’t that great on the road.
For the Lakers coming off an emotional win at home Sunday afternoon against the Miami Heat, everything looked peachy. Although the Pac-12 Tournament would evict them for a week, they only had to deal with the Detroit Pistons, Washington Wizards and Minnesota Timberwolves with the last game looking to be the only challenge. But the first game Tuesday night proved not to be so easy with the Lakers coughing up a 12-point lead and losing 88-85 in overtime in Detroit. To think losing to a then 12-26 team was a nadir for the Lakers was a great presumption.
It only got worse Wednesday night. Granted they had to travel from Detroit to Washington, but the Wizards are even worse than the Pistons. And things seemed to come easy for the Lakers as they got out to a 21-point lead in the third quarter. Then the floor dropped. Kobe Bryant in his masked splendor went 3-of-18 in second half as the Wizards outscored the Lakers 57-37. Pau Gasol went 6-of-11 for 19 points and 15 rebounds while Andrew Bynum was 6-of-8 for 19 points. If you’re counting, the two bigs combined went 12-of-20, or 60 percent, for 38 points. Kobe Bryant ended the game 9-of-31, 29 percent, for 30 points.
Adding the two games up, Gasol and Bynum went 33-of-52 (63.4 percent) for 88 points. Kobe went 17-of-64 (26.6 percent) for 52 points. Gasol and Bynum missed a combined 19 shots while Kobe missed 47 shots. Just sayin’.
Meanwhile for the Clippers they had their own set of problems after losing a close one in Minnesota Monday night. For some reason they let the Nets walk all over them trailing by as many as 18 points. In reverse to what the Lakers did, the Clippers actually took the lead on two Chris Paul free throws with 8.9 seconds left in regulation enacting Lawler’s Law at 100-98.
After a New Jersey timeout that advanced the ball in the front court, it should have been clear what the Clippers must do at all costs: do not let the Nets shoot a three. Former Laker Jordan Farmar had the honor, shooting a 27-footer with 0.2 seconds left on the clock: dagger through the Clippers and the Law broken.
It’s clear that the Lakers’ losses are more embarrassing. In both games they had them in hand only to just collapse. It’s not a sign of a championship team, but that should come as no surprise.
As for the Clippers with all of their changes since Chauncey Billups’ injury (in other words, the addition of Kenyon Martin), they got more grit. Well if grit equates to technical fouls, the Clippers certainly have that getting three in crucial moments of the second half.
It’s nice to be tough, but that wasn’t what ailed the Clippers. They still haven’t addressed their secondary scoring. Blake Griffin had 28 points and Chris Paul had 22. The Clippers managed to get 24 points from Randy Foye, but that’s really it. The rest of the team scored 26 points. The Nets’ bench outscored the Clippers’ bench 34-22.
What’s clear watching these two teams this week, or (to be more accurate in my case) listening to the games on radio while watching highlights in the evening, these two teams aren’t going to win anything especially if they can’t prove they can win consistently on the road. Actually let me rephrase that. Neither team will win anything if they can’t replicate the way they play at home on the road.
Although it could be worse. It could be the Pac 12 Tournament barn-burner between UCLA and USC which meant that unfortunately for basketball fans one program’s season would continue for at least one more game. The winner (loser?) was UCLA beating the Trojans 55-40. They face Arizona Thursday afternoon for anyone who cares.
LA Kings at Columbus Blue Jackets. 4:00 p.m. FS Prime Ticket, AM 1150 KTLK.
Anaheim Ducks at St. Louis Blues. 5:00 p.m. KDOC, AM 830 KLAA.
Big West Tournament @ Honda Center
Pacific at UCSB. 12:00 Noon
UC Irvine at Cal State Fullerton. 30 minutes after.
UC Davis at Long Beach State. 6:00 p.m.
UC Riverside at Cal Poly. 30 minutes after.
Pac 12 Tournament @ STAPLES Center
Oregon State at Washington. 12:00 Noon FSWest.
UCLA at Arizona. 2:30 p.m. FSWest, AM 570 KLAC.
Stanford at California. 6:00 p.m. FSWest.
Colorado at Oregon. 8:30 p.m. FSWest.