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Alex Caruso explodes for career-high in scoring as South Bay Lakers down Clippers

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Jemerrio Jones, Alex Caruso and Rajon Rondo all showed out as the Lakers topped their cross-hall rivals for the final time this season.

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NBA: Los Angeles Lakers at Los Angeles Clippers Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

In spite of all of the injuries on their roster, the Los Angeles Lakers were able to get the best of the playoff-bound LA Clippers, beating them 116-112 on the back of a career night from Alex Caruso.

Caruso earned his ninth career start on Friday and made the most of his opportunity, tallying a game and career-high 32 points to go along with 10 rebounds, five assists and two steals. He struggled to get his shots to fall with any consistency in the first half, but he didn’t let that stop him from taking open shots and as a result ended the night shooting an efficient 50 percent from the field, including 71.4 percent on seven attempts from behind the arc.

Caruso will be a restricted free agent this summer with a cap hold that will have little to no bearing on the Lakers’ plans to chase stars. There is absolutely no reason they shouldn’t keep him around.

Caruso wasn’t the only player in the Lakers’ backcourt that was feeling it on Friday. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope ended the night with 25 points and drained five 3-pointers. Over the last 10 games, Caldwell-Pope is shooting 39.1 percent from 3-point range. If only someone told him he was playing for his next contract earlier in the year.

Rajon Rondo also had a strong start to the fourth quarter, and finished with 15 points and 12 assists. Late-season call-up Jemerrio Jones also had his second good game in a row, finishing with 5 points, 10 rebounds, 2 blocks and some active defense.

Of course, every win for the Lakers from here on out does come with some consequences. With a win on Friday, the Lakers are tied in the win column with the Minnesota Timberwolves, who also won on Friday.

This win could be the difference between the Lakers getting the 10th pick and 11th pick. Then again, wins are fun, especially when it’s because of folk heroes like Caruso, who from now on shall be known as “The Bald Eagle.”

For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow Christian on Twitter at @RadRivas.