At this point in the Lakers' season, it wouldn't be remiss if you had much more compelling matters to look forward to today. Baseball fans had both the Angels and Dodgers playing, the Game of Thrones season four premiere was kicking off, and even the Anaheim Ducks, one of the best teams in the NHL, probably make for better television. Yours truly was particularly hyped up for the Game of Thrones premiere -- huge, Red Wedding-level spoilers: it's really, really awesome and will make you feel much better about your day; more Red Viper! -- so much that this Laker game felt just like an unfortunate footnote as the team finished up a long road of misery.
But that would be a disservice to a Lakers team that cared enough this late in the season against a far superior opponent to put up a fight at least for half of a game. This especially applies against a Clippers squad that appears to take a particular glee in obliterating the purple and gold at a time in which they lack the wherewithal to really do much in their own defense even when leaving whatever little they have left to offer on the court. When it comes down to it, the Clippers field two of the NBA's top ten players, a whole litany of excellent role players, and even have sufficient depth to field a garbage time unit, something that has been foreign to the Lakers, as ravaged by injury they have been this season. If the Clippers applied sufficient effort and executed a competent game plan, as they are wont to do under the auspices of Doc Rivers, you could turn the television off and do something else with your time.
This was why it was particularly surprising to see the Lakers only down eight at halftime before the floodgates opened up, especially given that the injury bug hit them again. The latest causality was Kent Bazemore, who has been asked to play from the one to the three, defend the opposition's primary offensive threat, and even act as the chief setup man and backup to Kendall Marshall due to Jordan Farmar and Steve Nash suffering injuries. Per postgame reports, he felt a "pop" in his foot and while X-rays were negative, it would be unfortunate for Bazemore, who has a qualifying offer the Lakers can exercise this offseason, to lose the rest of the year to injury after making so much of his opportunity here. Nick Young also suffered a knee injury, although he managed to eventually finish the game.
This left the Lakers with only seven players who actually ended up contributing, seeing that MarShon Brooks appears so thoroughly buried under the bench that he was only unearthed for the final two minutes of the game. Mind you, this isn't unjustified given that Brooks' gunning sensibilities are arguably worse than Young's and he shows little to no inclination towards team ball despite being on a team on which not doing so earns you the particular ire of the coach. It was an effective bout of gunning, however, that helped the Lakers early in the game, as Young had 17 points by halftime, which combined with Jordan Hill's 16 -- equal to what the rest of the team scored combined -- that kept the deficit manageable despite giving up 57 on to the Clippers on a 65.2 TS%.
As one might expect, the Lakers couldn't keep up that scoring pace, the Clippers could because they weren't exactly facing a defensive juggernaut, and the rest was history, namely one that involved a lot of dunking. With the exception of the game against Utah, this is more or less how the remainder of the Lakers' season projects to go. With little more than half of a team that is healthy and a bare talent pool, it is hard to imagine them summoning the sort of effort that has led them to upset victories as early as a week ago against Phoenix. Thankfully, the long road towards the lottery is nearly done. Only ten days more until freedom awaits.
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