In a month full of embarrassing losses, the LA Clippers took another one on Christmas Day, following 111-102 in Los Angeles to a Lakers team that had only one win all month. Despite leading by 11 points in the 1st quarter, the Clippers lost to the Lakers for the first time in 12 meetings, and they lost SG J.J. Redick to a hamstring injury in the process.
Top Performer: A lot of folks cracked jokes about 2016 NBA Champion C Timofey Mozgov getting a four-year deal from the Lakers this past offseason. Mozgov was the best C on the court, scoring a team-high 19 points on 8-of-11 FGs. 12 of Mozgov’s points came in a momentum turning 3rd quarter, and Mozgov didn’t even play in the 4th quarter, as the Lakers finally found a team that couldn’t complete a comeback on them.
X-Factor: The Lakers shot 47.6 percent from the field in this game, the best they shot in a game they actually won since making 50.6 percent from the field in a November 22 win vs the Thunder. The Clippers are now 3-6 when opponents shoot at least 47.6 percent from the field this season, making up just over a quarter of their games played. Seven of those nine games have come after Thanksgiving.
Major Moment: The Lakers were down 3 at halftime, but they went on a 13-0 run to begin the 2nd half. The Clippers never recovered. Mozgov scored 6 of his 12 3rd quarter points during this run, while Lakers SF Luol Deng had 4 of Los Angeles’ 7 rebounds during the 4-minute run – the Clippers had just 2 rebounds in this stretch. The Clippers also came out and missed their first five shots of the 2nd half while turning it over twice, leading to 5 fastbreak points by the Lakers. Clippers SF Luc Mbah a Moute had four of those five misfires.
Key Lineup: The Lakers starting lineup of PG D’Angelo Russell, SG Nick Young, Deng, PF Julius Randle, and Mozgov was superb. That unit outscored LA 49-36 in 18 minutes together, compiling a net rating of 35.9. The Clippers had PF Brandon Bass with the starters in place of PF Paul Pierce for two minutes, and that unit was outscored 7-2 while compiling a -108.3 net rating. But the Lakers simply did a great job of taking advantage of when the Clippers were small, while Mozgov shot the ball extremely well due to Jordan being too far inside to compensate for the complete lack of rebounding at the nominal forward positions.
The Definition: The collapse that started on Thanksgiving has completed itself on Christmas. Since starting 14-2, the Clippers are 8-8 since November 25. Now, 16 games in 31 days is a tough stretch, and now the Clippers have lost PF Blake Griffin (knee), PG Chris Paul (hamstring) and Redick (hamstring) within a week. But this is why you build a bench, and this is why you have Jordan. The Clippers haven’t put a complete week of games together in over a month, and now you don’t know what you’ll get from the Clippers from quarter to quarter!
During LA’s 14-2 start, the offense and defense were both ranked 2nd in efficiency. During this 8-8 stretch, the offense has dropped to 11th while the defense dropped to 17th. The team has mixed strong wins (at Cleveland, vs Spurs) with some awful losses (vs Mavericks, at Los Angeles). And injuries aren’t an excuse – everything comes back around at some point.
Nick Young on Lakers' win vs Clippers w/out CP & Griffin: "A win is a win. Nobody cares when we were hurt and injured. So why should we?"
— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) December 26, 2016