Without LeBron James, the Lakers fought valiantly but ran out of gas late, dropping their first game of the season to the Clippers, 127-116.
D’Angelo Russell continued his torrid stretch, pouring in 27 points with 10 assists, five rebounds and an emphatic block on 9-17 shooting overall and 4-9 shooting from the arc. Anthony Davis backed up him with his own impressive outing, scoring 26 points with 12 rebounds on 12-20 shooting.
A number of other Lakers chipped in on the night as Rui Hachimura had 11 points, Taurean Prince had 11 points and Austin Reaves had 12 points. Jarred Vanderbilt had 12 points, nine rebounds, two assists, two steals and a block off the bench.
Missed free throws hurt the Lakers as they went just 15-22, but they did grab 13 offensive rebounds and 18 second-chance points, one of the primary reasons they stayed in the game. The Clippers shot a sizzling 59.1% from the field and 51.9% from the 3-point line.
It was a hot start shooting the ball for both teams early before the Lakers slowed, allowing the Clippers to take open up a 16-10 lead. Behind an aggressive AD, the Lakers tied the game back up at 20-20 before a James Harden 3-pointer forced a timeout at 23-20.
Even as AD went to the bench late in the quarter, though, the Lakers kept pace until the end of the quarter when a Russell Westbrook 3-pointer followed by an and-one gave the Clippers a 35-29 lead heading into the second period. Westbrook then promptly opened the second quarter with a fastbreak dunk as multiple turnovers from the Lakers saw the lead balloon to 10.
D’Lo took over to start the second quarter to do all he could to keep the Lakers still in the game, orchestrating and creating everything to open the second period. Turnovers, though, continued to plague the team as the Clippers held a 54-43 lead after a three-point play from Daniel Theis.
Despite a continued adequate energy level, the Lakers struggled defensively as the Clippers really started to pull away at the end of the half. Terrance Mann’s corner 3-pointer and James Harden’s baseline jumper gave the hosts a 16-point lead. A Taurean Prince and-one was little more than a consolation prize to close the second period as the Lakers trailed 77-64 heading to the locker room.
The Lakers worked their asses off generating extra chances and scrapping to score..and it just didn't matter because they had no defensive answers for the Clippers— Alex Regla (@AlexmRegla) January 24, 2024
This is what the Clippers shot from every area of the floor (they also had a 74% eFG% + 141.1 offRTG in half court) pic.twitter.com/4mn79KDFby
The Lakers didn’t let go of the rope in the second half, but certainly struggled to make it a truly competitive game. The Clippers continued their red-hot shooting and the Lakers did just enough to stay barely attached.
But they were staying attached, largely through D’Lo, AD and some baskets from Rui Hachimura. A D’Lo 3-pointer pulled the Lakers with five at 90-85. After a circus shot from Kawhi, Reaves knocked down a 3-pointer to make it a four-point game.
To the credit of the Lakers, they routinely answered Clippers runs with their own, keeping the game from entirely getting away. It was an effort reminiscent of the last LeBron-less game against Utah, only this time with a much better version of AD.
Christian Wood took advantage of his matchup against Daniel Theis early in the fourth quarter. A D’Lo jumper pulled the Lakers as close as they had been in some time at 108-106. The Clippers would extend it back to a two-possession game, but the Lakers kept fighting, highlighted by a D’Lo block at the rim of Harden.
D'Angelo Russell with the BLOCK on James Harden pic.twitter.com/CuvmXGddNT— Ahn Fire Digital (@AhnFireDigital) January 24, 2024
The Lakers continued fighting for offensive boards and continued creating opportunities, but the shots dried up and the Clippers went up 119-108 after a pair of Kawhi freebies. Yet again, though, free throws from Vando and a layup from Reaves made it a 119-112 game.
But Kawhi had the final laugh on the night as he and the Clippers had too much firepower for the Lakers late.
You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.