Sunday, January 15, 2012
Postgame thoughts: 1/14 win over Lakers
By Pedro Moura
Here are a few items of note from Saturday's 102-94 win over the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center:
Paul at his best
The last time Chris Paul scored more than 33 points in a game, the number he put up Saturday against the Lakers?
Jan. 27, 2010. The Los Angeles Clippers guard was at his best against his new rival, scoring the 33 on 12-for-22 shooting from the field and six assists. He had to exit the game with four minutes left because of a hamstring strain, but his performance was enough to lead the Clippers to the victory anyway.
"Chris Paul, a heck of a game," Lakers coach Mike Brown said afterward.
A heck of a game indeed. Paul turned the ball over just once and produced three steals. He was perfect from the free-throw line (6-for-6) and 3-for-4 from 3-point range.
Lakers guard Kobe Bryant incessantly praised him after the game.
"The game just gets easier with Chris Paul," Bryant said before comparing himself to Paul. "He's a dog. He's going to fight to win, and not too many teams can deal with him.
"Chris Paul is really the only other guy in the league, other than Derrick Rose, who also has that competitive edge."
One would think that a matchup between the NBA's best and worst rebounding teams would create clear-cut margin on the glass in the former's favor, but that wasn't the case.
And the Clippers didn't just hang tough with the Lakers -- they actually out-rebounded them, 50-42. It was only the second time this season the Clippers out-rebounded an opponent and the Lakers were out-rebounded.
Credit a lot of that to Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. The two Clipper bigs' were active in the paint throughout Saturday's contest and recorded a combined 24 rebounds -- the most they've totaled together in any game this season. And reserve forward Reggie Evans had a rebound every other minute he was on the floor for an efficient eight boards.
"There's not a lot of teams that should out-rebound us, with the way D.J. can get up and how good of a rebounder Reggie Evans is," Griffin said Saturday. "That's been a point for us: Rebound better."
The Clippers' 17 offensive rebounds produced 25 second-chance points. Compare that to the Lakers' 12 such points and the importance of the improvement is clear.
"Their rebounding was sensational," Bryant said. "They just did a great job on the glass."
The Clippers could not stop Bryant, largely because the Lakers' guard has been on a torrid stretch of late but also because they don't have a single player who can consistently guard Bryant.
Caron Butler got a chance, and Randy Foye did too. Then, in the fourth quarter, Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro decided to double-team Bryant almost as soon as he caught the ball, but, even then, he still had 10 points in the final period on 5-for-6 shooting on his way to a 42-point night.
"The double team wasn't (working)," Del Negro said. "He had 42."
Bryant, in achieving his fourth-straight 40-point game, matched the entire Clippers' lineup in the third quarter with 21 points.
"He made a lot of tough shots, but he is going to do that," Del Negro said. "You can't get frustrated."
Replacing Mo Williams
Maybe it wasn't so obvious, but the Clippers definitely missed Mo Williams on Saturday, with the veteran guard out with a sore right foot suffered Tuesday against Portland.
Randy Foye is simply not the same caliber scorer Williams is. He had a couple bad stretches in Saturday's game, including when he had
Another thing his absence showed: The Clippers' bench needs some work. They scored just 11 points against the Lakers, with 10 of those coming from Foye and one point coming from Ryan Gomes.
Luckily for them, the Lakers' reserves, missing Steve Blake too, only scored 13.