The Los Angeles Clippers handed the Los Angeles Lakers their third straight loss to start the season on Friday night, 105-95. Questions are starting to mount about the Lakers' ability to mesh quickly, though they have 79 more opportunities to do so.
Without point guard Steve Nash due to a bruised thigh, the Lakers couldn't get much ball movement on offense. Steve Blake and Darius Morris managed only two assists together, while the team had only 15 on the night.
The Clippers had 19 fast break points and looked fresher on the perimeter than any of the purple and gold guards. Chris Paul and Eric Bledsoe gave the Lakers fits with the ball in their hands, and the energy level was noticeably higher for the Clippers in what's becoming one of the NBA's best rivalries.
Kobe Bryant finished with 40 points for the Lakers, who got only 20 combined from Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol. The offense looked more like the Lakers built around Kobe than the one that features four perennial All-Stars, and that will have to change for L.A. to get its first win of 2012-13.
Player of the Game: Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers
Paul finished with 18 points, 15 assists and three steals for the Clippers, and reminded folks who think he's the best point guard in the league just why that's the case.
He commanded the flow of the game on offense, pushed the pace when it was appropriate and ran the pick-and-roll with a crispness that isn't found on every contending team.
The best stat from his line was the turnovers. Paul had just one, and thoroughly outplayed whoever tried to contain him all night long.
Next Up for the Clippers
The Clippers will simply walk across the gym to other side of the Staples Center underground for their next game, after being the road team in the battle of L.A. The Golden State Warriors will be in town on Saturday night, and with them comes a slew of new expectations centering around Andrew Bogut and Stephen Curry.
Next Up for the Lakers
L.A. gets a day off to regroup before the Detroit Pistons come to town on Sunday. With the starters logging heavy minutes through three games, an extra day of rest will be good for this team before taking on a very youthful Detroit squad.