A win offers breathing room for the Los Angeles Lakers, and on Christmas Day, they got some. Fittingly, Laker Nick Young hit the game’s last field goal. He was the only Laker who was also on the team in 2013, the last time the Lakers beat the Clippers before an 11-game losing streak — the longest such streak they’ve had to any team since the franchise moved to Los Angeles.
But even with the Lakers losing 12 of their last 13, there’s only so much a team can do without its two best players on the court. The Clippers’ starting five of Ray Felton, JJ Redick, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Paul Pierce and DeAndre Jordan played reasonably well in the first half. Despite the inherent offensive limitations of a Paul and Griffin-less lineup (and mostly because of the defensive limitations of a Lakers team that really doesn’t try at that end of the floor), the Clippers posted 58 at the half and clearly looked like the best, although not necessarily more talented team. With a surprising amount of space around him, JJ Redick scored 19 in the first half, including 3 of 6 from deep. In yet another admirable performance in the absence of Chris Paul, Raymond Felton went full Russell Westbrook (or perhaps Russell is going full Felton?) and posted 8 points, 7 boards and 6 assists. Sloppy play at the end of the half cut an 11-point lead to three, but the general feeling heading into the third quarter was that the underhanded ,but experienced Clippers would pull away from a team that just doesn’t play defense.
The Clippers played with no energy, and it especially showed in their poor performance during the third quarter. They were outscored in the third, 34-16, fell behind by 18 points and never recovered. The Clippers are 8-8 in their last 16 games.
“The injuries are a problem,” Rivers said. “I think we have to respond better to them. So what? You have injuries.”
Ingram has drawn rave reviews for his fundamentally sound game and work ethic. At 19 years old, Ingram is expected to add strength gradually.
“I keep battling. Something good is going to come out of it,” Ingram said. “Just be in the right positions and help my teammates out. Eventually it’s going to be there. I’ll keep battling and figure out different ways to handle it.”
Against the Clippers, Ingram handled it by being more demonstrative. Though that sparked a whistle, the approach also prompted Walton to reiterate something notable about Ingram’s trajectory.
“He’s a very talented player,” Walton said, “that is capable of doing great things.”