Lakers point guard Steve Nash looks to pass against the double-team defense… (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles…)
Clippers 97, Lakers 91 (final)
The Clippers overcame a third-quarter comeback to take out a short-handed Lakers squad on Wednesday night at Staples Center.
With Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard out nursing injuries, the Lakers just didn't have the depth to keep up with this young, athletic roster.
Of course the Clippers didn't play Chris Paul, Jamal Crawford and a long list of players, but ultimately the Lakers are a top-heavy team reliant on the star power of Bryant and Howard.
The Clippers opened the fourth quarter on a run and while the Lakers kept it close, they just couldn't close the athleticism gap.
Steve Nash guided the Lakers back in the third quarter but Brown didn't play him in the fourth. Steve Blake was solid behind him, hitting four of his eight three-point attempts. Blake's four assists were coupled with four turnovers.
Matt Barnes, Eric Bledsoe and Travis Leslie helped the Clippers pull away.
The Lakers shot well (47.1% from the field, 38.1% from three) but once again turnovers were a problem (20).
Gasol finished with a team-high 17 points. Jordan Hill returned from injury to score 12. Both Gasol and Hill led the Lakers with eight boards apiece. Rookie Robert Sacre had 13 and seven but also collected five fouls and turnovers, a piece.
For fans of the +/- statistic, Devin Ebanks finished with a team-high +15 while his counterpart at shooting guard, Jodie Meeks, was a team worst -21.
Bledsoe was a steal away from a triple-double with 22 points, 11 assists and nine takeaways. Barnes had 18 points.
The Lakers finish the preseason on Thursday night in San Diego against the Sacramento Kings.
Lakers 73, Clippers 72 (end of third quarter)
The Lakers fought back into the game with a strong third quarter. While the Clippers have the athletic advantage, the Lakers managed to slow the game down and simply execute.
Going inside to Pau Gasol and Robert Sacre or relying on Steve Nash to make the perfect pass off the pick and roll, the Lakers came back from a nine-point deficit to go up by as many as six.
Coach Mike Brown, as noted pregame, went with Devin Ebanks at guard to start the second half and the Lakers just seemed to play better with the third-year swingman in the lineup.
Gasol found the touch on his jumper and Metta World Peace showed he can still dunk, soaring on a breakaway after a steal.
The athleticism gap showed as the quarter progressed and the Clippers closed the gap.
The Lakers shot 61.1% in the third, led by Gasol's 13, Peace's 10 and six from Sacre. Nash didn't score but orchestrated the team's run (three assists in the quarter).
The Clippers got a spark from Willie Green with seven and Eric Bledsoe with six.
Clippers 49, Lakers 40 (halftime)
At some point the lack of depth for the Lakers was going to be a problem. The Clippers might be sitting more players but while the Lakers are top heavy in talent, the Clippers have a loaded roster.
The athleticism of Eric Bledsoe along with Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan briefly turned the game into a track meet. Former Lakers forward Matt Barnes scored 10 points in almost 14 minutes for the Clippers.
Before the score got away from the Lakers late in the second, Jordan Hill looked strong in his return from a back injury. In about 13 minutes he scored six points and collected five boards.
The Lakers made an effort to stick to their system. Steve Nash continued in the role of organizer instead of pick-and-roll penetrator/shooter. The Lakers veteran had four points and four assists but also three turnovers and three fouls.
Pau Gasol went into the half with only two points on one-for-five shooting.
The Clippers as a team shot 45% from the field. The Lakers shot 43.2% but have hit four of 10 from three-point range.
The Lakers got in the penalty early, which put the Clippers on the line 17 times (for 12 points) while the Lakers have only five attempts.
Lakers 26, Clippers 24 (end of first quarter)
The Lakers shook off a rough start, going scoreless for almost four-full minutes before Robert Sacre scored two of his six first-quarter points.
Over the next two to three minutes, the Lakers would pour in 11 points to take their first lead at 11-9.
Both Steve Nash and Jodie Meeks picked up two quick fouls but Coach Mike Brown stuck with his starting backcourt for much of the quarter.
The Lakers hit three of four from three-point range, with eight different players putting points on the board to take the two-point lead into the second quarter.
Blake Griffin led the Clippers with seven points, neck and neck with Sacre (60th pick in the 2012 NBA draft).
The Lakers visit the Clippers but as the preseason winds down, both teams are sitting players.
Kobe Bryant is out with a sore foot. Also not in uniform: Dwight Howard, Earl Clark, Chris Paul, Jamal Crawford, Grant Hill, Lamar Odom, Chauncey Billups and Trey Thompkins.
Jodie Meeks gets the start in place of Bryant although Coach Mike Brown indicated he might use Devin Ebanks to start the third quarter. Rookie Robert Sacre will play center for Howard.
The Clippers go with Eric Bledsoe in place of Paul. With Billups still recovering from a torn Achilles, Willie Green has started five of the Clippers' six preseason games.
Preview: Lakers at Clippers
Lakers battle the learning curve
Kobe Bryant to miss two preseason games