Well, that escalated quickly. The Clippers defense was wet tissue paper in the first quarter, but the Lakers were (mostly) unable to capitalize, as the Clips were good enough on offense that it did not matter, with Matt Barnes knocking down 3 of his 4 three pointers in the period as a standout to go with Chris Paul's 9 points to start things off. While Jeremy Lin couldn't bother Paul defensively, he at least made him work on the other end, scoring 7 points of his own, including a looooong three to end the period down a respectable 10 points, which would be by far the closest quarter deficit of the night.
But the facilitator that undoubtedly bothered the Lakers most in the first half was not Paul, but Clippers power forward Blake Griffin, who when he last played against the Lakers erupted for 39 points. This contest, he deigned to pick apart the Lakers defense with his passing, finishing the first half with 8 assists, including at least two highlight lobs to DeAndre Jordan for dunks. A downpour of Clipper dunks and threes after the starters returned midway through the second led to a 19-7 run that allowed the Clippers to take a 70-48 lead into the break. Everything that could go wrong for the purple and gold did, as they shot 44.4% from the field compared to the Clippers 57.8%, and let the Clippers dunk everything in site as their defense completely disappeared. Actually, for the Lakers defense to disappear, it would have had to show up in the first place, which it never did. This was not a recipe for a competitive bout against an opponent that so thoroughly outguns them in the first place. Making matters worse was the fact that Kobe Bryant and Nick Young combined for zero first half points on 0-7 shooting and 0-2 from the line with Bryant having three turnovers as well.
Kobe would finally knock down his first basket with 5:49 left in the third and the Lakers trailing by 30, and finished the night scoring 4 points on 2-12 shooting with 7 assists and 8 rebounds (and 6 turnovers) in his and the Lakers worst game since he returned from his three game rest. The purple and gold ended the the third quarter down 99-63, and from there the result was all academic. Paul (24 points, 11 assists, and only 1 turnover) and Griffin (27 points, 9 rebounds, 8 assists, and 3 steals) did not play in the 4th quarter, and while they were expected to carve up the Lakers, Matt Barnes (19 points, 5-10 on three pointers) most assuredly was not. But when the Lakers play defense as badly as they did tonight, dancing Steve Ballmer could have dropped at least 10 on them. The only positives for the Lakers tonight was that Kobe did not play in the fourth, but he still played 28 minutes, too much for a game that was effectively over in the first half. Additionally, Jordan Clarkson showed some of his potential in his best game of the year so far, scoring 14 points on 6-10 shooting, while also demonstrating a nice ability to finish through contact and rebounding well for a guard (4 rebounds) in 20 minutes off of the bench.
When Byron Scott said that Lakers Clippers "was not a rivalry" before the game, he was correct. A rivalry implies competitiveness from both sides, and the Lakers showed none tonight. We'll see if they can bounce back from this pathetic showing against a moribund Orlando Magic squad on Friday. If they show up with the effort they did tonight, they will not.
Yup, that about sums things up.