LOS ANGELES -- The first half of the Los Angeles Lakers' season finally, mercifully came to an end Thursday.
Actually, it's more like 65 percent of the season is in the books, but the team likes to look at the All-Star break as the midpoint of the season.
The Lakers have had their fair share of experience rationalizing what's happened to them so far -- blame it on the injuries, blame it on the coaching change, blame it on everybody just coming together to play in L.A. -- but at the end of the day, they have to realize they're just not as good as the teams they're chasing.
The Los Angeles Clippers outclassed the Lakers on Thursday, controlling them from the opening tip on through the final buzzer.
"Every day that goes by, it gets a little bit harder," Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni said at shootaround Thursday of the Lakers' postseason goal.
He wasn't kidding.
D'Antoni was then asked what the break could do for his team.
"I think it comes at a good time," he said. "It gives some guys a little bit of rest, and we’ll get ready to make the final sprint in the last 100 yards. That’s when everybody typically picks it up and knows what’s at stake. It should be interesting the last 28 games."
Interesting is one way to put it.
How it happened: It wasn't looking too hot for the Lakers early, with the Clippers racing out to a 15-0 lead out of the gates and Blake Griffin personally outscoring the Lakers as a team 18-17 at the end of the first quarter (with the Clips up 31-17 overall). The Lakers clawed back into it by shooting 12-for-17 in the second quarter, but a late 11-0 run by the Clippers put their lead back to 12 at the half. That swelled to 21 headed into the fourth, and it was garbage time from there. The Lakers were outplayed in every facet of the game.
What it means: The Lakers are 24-29 with 28 games left to play. Just to get to .500, they have to go 16-12. To really get into the playoff hunt, with the Houston Rockets three games above .500 at the break, they have to start thinking about going 19-9 or even better to really make a dent in the standings, unless they get some help from a team such as Houston or Utah falling off.
Hits: Kobe Bryant had 20 points and 11 assists.
Antawn Jamison scored 17 points on 7-for-13 shooting off the bench.
Misses: Bryant had six of the Lakers' 16 turnovers, which led to 23 points overall for the Clippers.
The Clippers have won the first three meetings between the two teams this season, clinching their first season series victory against the Lakers since 1992-93.
Referee Bill Spooner called Metta World Peace for a technical foul in the second quarter when World Peace threw his arm in the air in celebration after pulling the Lakers to within four after they had trailed by as many as 16 early. It was purely a reputation call and blatantly incorrect.
Stat of the night: The Clippers shot 16-for-30 (53.3 percent) from 3, and the Lakers were just 6-for-20 (30 percent) from 3 after starting the game 0-for-8 from deep in the first quarter.
What's next: How do you keep the Lakers from losing ground in the standings for nearly a week? Don't schedule any games. The Lakers have six days before their next game, against Boston on Wednesday.