The Clippers are a popular pick to win/make/compete for the NBA Finals, because they have a great team (on paper) and a good coach (in theory). The Lakers are a popular pick to miss the playoffs entirely, because Kobe Bryant is injured, their “stars” are old dudes, and their rotation players are castoffs.
So how did the Lakers essentially rout the Clippers last night, in each team’s season opener?
The final score was 116-103, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. The Lakers bench played the entire fourth quarter while Steve Nash and Pau Gasol rested, and they dropped 41 points in those 12 minutes to just 24 from the Clippers. That’s absurd, especially when you consider this bench consists of guys like Xavier Henry, Jordan Farmar and Wesley Johnson — also known as Who?, Oh Yeah That Guy and Um, I Think I Know Him. Henry led all scorers, and his night was highlighted by this ferocious transition jam (call it your Daily Yam):
After the game, Doc Rivers revealed that he was worried something like this might happen:
“We were not ready tonight. I told our guys before the game. Those are pros on the other side and they’ve been told for months how good you’re going to be, how they’re not going to be good and they’re not going to have Kobe and all that stuff. You know they were going to play like this is the world championship, with that type of energy, and we never matched it.”
This is a plausible explanation, and if this is really the only thing bothering the Clippers, then it’s easy to fix. But did they really need to be pumped up like that for the first game of the season, against their hallway rival? To come out so flat after a momentous offseason (not to mention tough playoff exit) is an embarrassment.
You still have to expect the Clippers to be an elite Western Conference team, and the Lakers to struggle. But every game counts, and now the Clippers are 0-1 to start the year even though they drew an “easy” first game.
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