The disconcerting thing about two teams who are co-tenants in the same arena is that you never know whom the cheering is for when you’re waiting on line at the concession stand.
Monday night’s matchup at the Staples Center between the Clippers and Lakers was as good as it gets from a couple of below .500 ball clubs struggling to find their footing, expect for the fact that Blake Griffin left the game, limping.
Former Laker Lou Williams gave Luke Walton and company a taste of trader’s remorse scoring a season-high 42 points to help his team rally from an eight-point deficit in defeating the Lakers 120-115.
Williams was the talk of the town until late in the fourth when Griffin fell to the ground in pursuit of a loose ball in the paint with teammate Austin Rivers and Laker Rookie Lonzo Ball. Rivers landed on Griffin’s left leg, twisting it awkwardly, leaving the veteran power forward writhing in pain on the hard court floor.
After Griffin labored for a few possessions, coach Doc Rivers decided to remove him from the game. With the season ending knee surgery to Patrick Beverly along with the absence of injured forward Danilo Gallinari and guard Milos Teodosic, the potential loss of their franchise player could be the final nail in the Clipper’s coffin.
Griffin ended his night with 26 points, three from behind the arc, 11 boards and six assists.
The Lakers battled Lob City for bragging rights all night long, opening a 103-95 lead in the fourth. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had a team high 29 points while the bench pitched in 54.
The Clippers answered with a 15-2 run to take go-ahead 110-104. Pope hit an open 18-footer to get the Laker’s within one with 48 seconds remaining, but Williams hot hand responded with a beautiful lay-up, and then Walton’s line-up went cold.
Brandon Ingram and Jordan Clarkson added 17 points apiece. Kyle Kuzma contributed 15.
Lonzo Ball struggled from the field still searching for signs of his elusive jump shot. In the final five minutes the UCLA star missed a pair of three pointers, then tossed the ball out of bounds past a lunging Julius Randle.
Wednesday the Lakers will have their hands full when they welcome the defending champion Golden State Warriors, while on Thursday, with or without Griffin, the Clippers will host the Utah Jazz, hoping to extend their winning streak to four.