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Clippers get the highlights, Lakers take win and likely division

Apr 5, 2012, 2:56 AM EDT

Los Angeles Lakers v Los Angeles Clippers Getty Images

It’s simplistic, but not inaccurate, to see Wednesday night’s Lakers win over the Clippers like Andrew Bynum saw it. He was asked about Blake Griffin’s dunk on Pau Gasol (you can decide which one).

“He can have the highlight, we’ll take the W,” Bynum said.

But that W — a 113-108 win for the Lakers that may cement them on top of the Pacific Division and as the three seed in the West — is made up of many little things. Little steps of experience and execution that the Lakers have learned as the core of their team has battled for championships, little things the Clippers are still learning. Sometimes the hard way.

“We got to learn how to win these games and close these out,” said Chris Paul, who finished with 22 points and 16 assists. “I think this was a good learning process for us, because this is how the playoffs are. Down the stretch everybody in the gym knows who the ball is going to on both ends of the court and we gotta find ways to manage it, and unfortunately we didn’t tonight.

They didn’t on the dagger shot — a Kobe two that put the Lakers up four with 24.5 seconds left. The Lakers ran a side pick and role with Kobe and Ramon Sessions to try and get a switch. Coach Vinny Del Negro said after the game the Clippers wanted to trap, but they didn’t execute it well. Kobe spun toward the baseline and got to his spot — 20-feet out along the baseline — where he buried the jumper with Randy Foye’s hand in his face. Rule No. 1 for defending Kobe is to keep him out of his favorite spots on the floor. Kobe knew how to get there, the Clippers didn’t know how to stop him. They paid.

The Clippers had won six in a row coming into this based on defense, but they let the Lakers shoot 51.8 percent for the game. Andrew Bynum was a beast inside and scored 36 on just 20 shots, Kobe had 31 on 19 shots.

With the Clippers taking the ball out of the basket so often, they didn’t get a chance to get out and run, the other thing that had fueled their winning streak. While this game was faster at 93 possessions than both teams have averaged this season, it felt like the Lakers controlled the pace.

Now the Lakers control their own destiny. The Lakers are 2.5 games up on the Clippers with 12 to play, and for the Clips 8 of those 12 are on the road. The Lakers now also have won the season series and the tiebreaker with the Clips. The Lakers have a tough schedule left — three against San Antonio plus games against the Mavericks and Thunder — but it’s hard to see the Clippers closing the gap.

The Clippers are getting there. But there is a lesson to learn about defensive execution mattering more than offensive fireworks. An at times painful lesson.

But once they learn it the tables may flip in this cross-town rivalry the Lakers have owned for as long as anyone can remember. For now, the Clippers have the highlights but the Lakers have what they really want.

  1. highlander24 - Apr 5, 2012 at 3:17 AM

    I loved this game! The Lakers faced adversity and still prevailed over the all show and no go punk Clippers. The real LA basketball team won. GO LAKERS!!! (Just have to remember put it away early in the fourth quarter though).

  2. velascochad - Apr 5, 2012 at 4:22 AM

    griffin dunk posterizes gasol! yeah! and the caption on the poster should be “offensive foul”

    • texangirl - Apr 5, 2012 at 9:16 AM

      Griffin plays to show off while Gasol plays to win. Gasol is a much better player.

      • jizzojames - Apr 5, 2012 at 9:52 AM

        I’d go with better, not much better. The kid is still playing off talent with an undefined coach. Blake Griffin’s future is so bright he’s gonna need shades.

  3. davecotuit - Apr 5, 2012 at 4:35 AM

    i am so sick and tired of the damn arrogant lakers winning the pac division year after year after year.

    i just hope i live long enough to see them eat dirt just once!!!

    • cinnalocks - Apr 5, 2012 at 10:51 AM

      Why don’t you eat dirt and come to the reality that they work hard a being one of the best every year. They have built a great organization and fan base, others should study it rather than hate. No wonder the competition and media in the NBA evolves around is driven by basically 6 teams

    • mightyquinn69 - Apr 5, 2012 at 12:32 PM

      Champs, (Lakers), don’t eat dirt. Chumps, (Clippers), do.

    • fouldwimmerlaik - Apr 5, 2012 at 6:51 PM

      You hate a franchise for efficiently doing its job?


      You’re pathetic.

      Arrogant Lakers?

      Tell me now, how would you feel and behave if your team had the Lakers’ banners instead?

      You, sir, ARE A HYPOCRITE.

  4. davidly - Apr 5, 2012 at 4:59 AM

    I think the most significant thing here is that Bryant got his 31 without shooting the ball twenty times or more. He had a great all-around game without diminishing production from the bigs.

    Speakin’ o’ which: It’d be tempting to look at Paul’s numbers versus Pau’s on this night and think about what could have been. I was one who was not convinced that a core of Paul, Bryant and Bynum would have been able to get it done offensively, but who knows…

    Ok City had that game stolen last night, btw. In reality, I think they whooped the Eastern Conference champs. I dunno who is gonna beat the Thunder this year.

    • therealhtj - Apr 5, 2012 at 9:45 AM

      Paul woulda left the Lakers with a glaring hole at the 4 and still a big ole’ mess at the 3 that it is today. My guess is they’d be roughly in the same place.

      I still highly doubt Donald Sterling is going to pay two franchise players max money. 2013-14 rolls around and they’re paying 30% of the cap to Griffin (18mil+) and an extension to CP3 starting in the low 20’s. With the supertax looming – NEVER GONNA HAPPEN. Griffin should realize who he’s dealing with at that point and begin to plan his escape – but he won’t, he ‘ll take his money like they all do. After that, they’ll revert to being the same ole’ Clippers.

  5. davidly - Apr 5, 2012 at 5:12 AM

    Forgive me, Kurt, but if “..may cement them on top of the Pacific Division..” is to mean, that when all is said and done, this win might mean something…

    I think you know where this not atypical Net-pedant is going with this. I mean, come on: cement dries pretty quickly and the LA in question is only a couple of games ahead with several tough ones against contenders down the stretch. It is not entirely unlikely that they won’t slip to the fourth spot. And that previous sentence’s mealy-mouthedness aside, be careful when you lay those bricks, is all I’m saying.

    • jizzojames - Apr 5, 2012 at 9:56 AM

      8~\ What?????????????????????????

  6. davidly - Apr 5, 2012 at 5:14 AM

    And, oh yeah, guess who called Kobe’s performance last night “a masterstroke worthy of the old school”?

  7. fouldwimmerlaik - Apr 5, 2012 at 7:39 AM

    It’s like some dude with all those fancy moves and crossovers but can’t make a shot. As opposed to some old-school player who knows the basics and consistently makes his shots.

  8. loungefly74 - Apr 5, 2012 at 7:52 AM

    i see that kobe likes to play “airplane” as well! nice!

    i agree with those who say this game was more about putting the ClipShow in check…the Lakers rule the roost in LaLa land another year.

  9. tsi431 - Apr 5, 2012 at 8:02 AM

    Who do I want to see in the dunk contest? Blake Griffin.

    Who do I want on my favorite basketball team? Anyone but.

  10. fouldwimmerlaik - Apr 5, 2012 at 8:20 AM

    Reminds me of this scene where there was this guy confronting his opponent with all these impressive “pre-fight displays” for intimidation. The other guy just pulls out his revolver and blasts the poor fellah.

    Game over. LOL!

  11. omniusprime - Apr 5, 2012 at 8:52 AM

    Griffin got the big dunk but Kobe got the winning dagger shot at the end of the game. The Lakers win the season series and prove they are LA’s best team. Still disturbing to see the bench lose yet another solid lead, Steve Flake has to be replaced by a real point guard who can shoot and not turn over the ball so often. The Lakers have to start beating the elite teams though to show they can be a real contender in the playoffs. Go Lakers!

  12. pistolpete0903 - Apr 5, 2012 at 8:58 AM

    How big is the season ending injury of Chauncey? The clippers could definitely have used his poise down the stretch.

    • chrisppers - Apr 5, 2012 at 5:28 PM

      It’s funny how everyone has completely forgotten to mention the fact that the Clippers barely lost and they didn’t even have Mo Williams!!

      If he was playing, the result may have been a different story, and when it matters most (playoffs), he will be.

      On another note, both Kobe and Bynum had to have one of their best games of the season to just barely win.

  13. lakerryan - Apr 5, 2012 at 9:22 AM

    First one was clearly over the back. Second one Pau got an elbow to the face and a push off. Two offensive fouls but we can’t call that because it’s Blake griffin

  14. losangelasbasketball - Apr 5, 2012 at 10:52 AM

    Gasol should just call in sick to work tomorrow….

    • mightyquinn69 - Apr 5, 2012 at 12:48 PM

      Gasol has two Rings, and three final appearances. No one on the Clips has either, lol.

  15. lakerluver - Apr 5, 2012 at 10:57 AM

    The LAKERS still, and always, will run L. A. !!

  16. bryce722 - Apr 5, 2012 at 11:23 AM

    Why does the nba compare Blake Griffin and Kevin Love. Kevin Love doubles Blake Griffin’s stats and he doesn’t have half the talent or athleticism Blake has. Also props to my Lakers for the good back to back wins.

  17. pastorstevelarson - Apr 5, 2012 at 3:04 PM

    Loved the game last night. I believe Sessions is making a huge difference in the Lakers. He takes so much pressure off Kobe and the Lakers are better when Ramon runs the team. I don’t think that Sessions and Blake should be on the court at the same time – the Lakers give up too much in size and defense. Blake did ok (not great) when he was on his own, but the Lakers got hurt when both of them were on the floor at the same time. Andrew Bynum is becoming an awesome center. I think that the Lakers have a good shot this year. They’ve got some work to do, but things are looking good!

    Kudos to Mitch for taking the heat and trading Fisher and acquiring Sessions. It was a gutsy move, but one that is paying great dividends.

  18. aventador12 - Apr 5, 2012 at 4:54 PM

    As Kobe Bryant stated on his interview that is on LA Times sports section about last night’s game, “it was a legitimate dunk”. -Bryant said with a smile. He even boasted that he “would’ve done the same thing” if he had the chance both to posterize and physically maul an opponent. And that’s our boy Kobe saying these things. Proves to show how he respects the game and players just as much as he wants to be respected and treated. Watching the video, clearly, it was physical. And Gasol himself stated that Griffin like to be that way and play his game. Just quite embarrassing to see Pao talk to the officials and looked like he was whining. Just unacceptable to see the Lakers stumble at times usually in the last quarter, lose a lead, and depend mostly on a player or two like Kobe & Bynum last night.

  19. crohrbaugh - Apr 5, 2012 at 10:13 PM

    Blake fouled the hell out of Gasol on that play.

  20. mlblogsrickr2009 - Apr 6, 2012 at 4:38 PM

    That was an obvious over the back foul by Blake, why wasn’t it called.

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