The Los Angeles Lakers picked up a much needed win, downing the Los Angeles Clippers by the final score of 96-91. Though the victory was of great importance to the Lakers, they were hardly the only winners on the night, as anybody watching this game was treated to a vastly entertaining game of basketball. The game, and especially the 2nd half, had a little bit of everything; Big shots, highlight reel dunks, skirmishes, technical fouls, an ejection. The story of the game was the contributions of two players from the Lakers much maligned bench unit, and its tough to tell which one was more unbelievable. In the first half, Andrew Goudelock scored more points (14) than he had all season long to date (10). But that paled in comparison to the second half, which was dominated by the emotion and effort of Metta World Peace. MWP didn't light up the score board (though his one made basket on the night was a three willed in by the wings of Lady Justice), but he dominated the game in a variety of other ways, picking up steals, getting in people's faces, and, most importantly, playing a huge role as playmaker down the stretch. MWP finished with an oddball line of 3 points, 5 boards, a team high 7 assists, 2 steals, a block, and a +20 effort for his time spent on the court.
The Big Three all played well for the Lakers, with Pau Gasol looking aggressive in going for 23 points and 10 boards, Andrew Bynum chipped in with 19 and 6 and 4 blocks (including a vital effort in the final minute to prevent an easy Deandre Jordan dunk) and Kobe Bryant chimed in with a measured performance that saw him (shock!) not try to take over every possession down the stretch. They outlasted a strong night from Blake Griffin (26 and 9), though Blake wasn't supported with much help from the rest of his squad.
In the end, this was a win for the Lakers, and for basketball. We've discussed the reasons why Lakers-Clippers isn't quite a yet a rivalry, but it sure as hell qualifies as a derby (pronounced DAR-BEE, for reasons known only to the British). That's what they call a soccer match between two local teams, because you can always guarantee that both teams will play hard, and tensions are likely to get escalated. It's become very clear that the Clippers are trying to seize the mantle of Los Angeles from the Lakers in every single game they play against each other, and the Lakers showed tonight there's still plenty of strength left in that ironclad grip.