Pau Gasol and the Lakers go head-to-head with Blake Griffin and the Clippers… (Stephen Dunn / Getty Images )
Clippers 105 - Lakers 95 (final)
Bryant scores six-straight to open the fourth, to get the Lakers back within 10.
Ryan Hollins fouls out in just 12:17 on the court, not an NBA record, but still impressive.
The Lakers momentum, after Bryant's early boost, stalls.
With time for one last charge, the Lakers scrape within eight-points but time is running short. The Clippers have had an answer for every Lakers run tonight.Why would that be different late in the fourth?
It's not . . .
Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard have combined for 19 points, neither made the impact needed offensively. Howard and Bryant have combined for 10 turnovers. The Clippers have 11 as a team.
The strength of the Clippers is their bench. The Lakers weakness is their bench and they're short-handed tonight without Nash.
Both Steve Blake and Blake Griffin foul out late, but the game is already out of reach for the Lakers who drop to 0-3. The Clippers climb to 2-0.
Bryant put in an efficient 40 points (14-23 shooting), but he didn't get enough support from his teammates. The Lakers shot well as a team from the field (50%), with Bryant’s 60.9% offseting the rest of the Lakers’ 43.5%.
Gasol's double-double came on a pair of late meaningless baskets, and while 14 rebounds shouldn't be discounted, he didn't seem comfortable tonight against the Clippers.
Howard blocked five shots along the way, and while the Lakers' defense had positive stretches, they just didn't have the depth to match the Clippers.
Jamal Crawford finished strong, leading the Clippers with 21 points.
Clippers 82 - Lakers 67 (end of third quarter)
The Lakers close to within four points briefly, but the Clippers push back enough keep the Lakers at bay.
After the Clippers extend the lead to nine, Kobe Bryant scores on a three-point play and Dwight Howard blocks Blake Griffin twice on the same possession. The Lakers manage to stay close despite missing Steve Nash, and dealing with Howard's early foul trouble.
Steve Blake, noticing his team was running against the shot clock, takes it to the basket and draws a foul. The Lakers creep within three.
DeAndre Jordan's right-handed put-back dunk stuns the crowd. Even through the margin has been close most of the night, the Clippers have held the advantage consistently.
Once Coach Brown turns to a reserve or two, the margin seems to expand for the Clippers. The Lakers have to work a lot harder just to stay with this team.
After all that work, Clippers pull away to a 12-point lead.
Brown is called for a technical foul and the Lakers seem exasperated. Jamal Crawford drains a three and the lead is up to 15 (then 16).
The Clippers have made 30 field goals to the Lakers' 22 through three quarters.
Bryant is high-man with 23, but only one of his teammates is in double figures (Howard with 10). The Clippers have four players with 12 or more, led by Blake Griffin's 15.
Clippers 52 - Lakers 47 (halftime)
The Lakers simply can't afford to turn the ball over against the Clippers.
Kobe Bryant gets his first break and the lineup of Darius Morris, Devin Ebanks, Antawn Jamison, Jordan Hill and Dwight Howard is an odd group that quickly gets run off the floor with six-straight points for the Clippers.
Mike Brown pulls out Hill and goes with a two-point guard lineup with Blake and Morris. Morris hits a three from the corner but the Lakers are still down 10.
After a stop, Blake nails a three and it's quickly back to a seven-point deficit.
Howard commits his third foul almost five minutes into the third, which sends him back to the bench for the rest of the half.
Bryant and Gasol return, as the Lakers look to salvage what's left of the half. World Peace nails a three from the corner, and the Lakers have gotten right back to where they were at the start of the period.
The Clippers respond quickly to double up their lead. Still, the Lakers scrap all the way back to within two until Butler nails a three at the halftime buzzer.
Bryant and Butler are tied with 14 apiece. Foul trouble limits Howard to just 10 minutes on the floor.
Clippers 28 - Lakers 23 (end of first quarter)
As expected, the Lakers have a different Steve in the starting lineup with Blake at the point instead of Nash, who is out with a lower-leg contusion. Coach Mike Brown said he might give second-year player Darius Morris a look off the bench, although Chris Duhon remains a possibility.
The Lakers start Kobe Bryant, Metta World Peace, Pau Gasol, Dwight Howard and Blake. The Clippers go with Chris Paul, Willie Green, Caron Butler, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan.
The Clippers take a four-point lead early, but Jordan collects his second personal foul just over five minutes into the game, and is replaced by Ryan Hollins.
The Lakers can't capitalize as Howard is tabbed with his second foul on the ensuing possession, which brings in Jordan Hill.
A Butler jumper puts the Lakers down nine.
Brown goes with Devin Ebanks instead of Antawn Jamison behind World Peace, in his ever-evolving rotation.