The loss kept the reigning NBA Lakers champion at No.6. Staples Center roommates could potentially face off in the first round.
The Lakers have lost four of five, with six games remaining in the regular season. The only thing they’ve landed so far is a spot in the new play-in tournament, which James has ridiculed. Still struggling with a sprained ankle, he will be out again Friday night for a pivotal game in Portland. This season series is tied.
“We don’t see it as bad,” Anthony Davis said of the play-in format. “We need games to get used to each other anyway. We don’t want to go down that road, but if it happens, it happens. “
Davis was limited to four points on 2 of 9 shots in nine minutes. He said he twisted his ankle after awkwardly stepping on the scorer’s table in the first. He fell, but got up and stayed in the game. He was later ruled out due to back spasms.
“I know it looked bad, but it’s okay,” Davis said of his ankle, adding that his back was blocked. He had worked and expects to play Friday in what he called the Lakers’ biggest game of the regular season. .
“When we’re 100% healthy we’re the best team in the league, so we keep that in mind,” said Davis.
Kawhi Leonard had 15 points, eight rebounds and six assists, and Ivica Zubac added 14 points and eight rebounds for the Clippers, who have already clinched a playoff berth. They’ve won two in a row after losing three in a row and are half a game ahead of fourth-place Denver.
“Our intensity was great from the jump,” said George. “We got to the paint, made some extra plays and defensively we were locked into the game plan.
Kyle Kuzma led the injury-plagued Lakers with 25 points.
Davis’ latest setback comes after losing two months already after a calf injury.
“I don’t know if we have juju issues here,” Kuzma said. “Every game is something different – injuries, accidents. I can’t complain, I can’t linger, I can’t have excuses. “
The Clippers shot 63% in the first half, as they led by 24 points. The Lakers’ only lead came when Davis scored the game’s first basket.
“We’re hanging on,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. “No one feels sorry for himself. We know we have to be better even in adverse circumstances. “
The Lakers got under-four early in the second quarter, but the Clippers responded by scoring 11 straight points to restore a double-digit lead that stretched to 65-42 at halftime. DeMarcus Cousins tallied nine of his 11 points in the second, hitting a 3-point and getting a steal and dunk in an 8-0 push.
The Lakers outscored the Clippers 29-27 in the third, but couldn’t seriously reduce the deficit. Kuzma’s 3 pointer drew them under 17 at the start of the period, when Andre Drummond collected his fourth and fifth fouls.
Kuzma played fourth with the Lakers’ second unit, which scored all 23 points for the team during the period.
The Clippers were better on the boards (47-34) and on the free throw line, 23 of 26. The Lakers scored 18 of 29.
Lakers: Alex Caruso had eight points and seven assists in his second guard start of the season. … Talen Horton-Tucker (right calf strain) has been absent and will also be out on Friday. … Dennis Schröder (health and safety protocols) was also missing from the game.… It is possible that Jared Dudley, absent since March 15 with a right MCL tear, could still play this season. He returned to court.
Clippers: Swept the series this season, winning by seven, 18 and 24 points. … Made just two 3 points in the second half. … Amir Coffey has been absent due to health and safety protocols.
WHERE IS LBJ?
James hasn’t been on the Lakers bench for the past two games. He also won’t be traveling with the team to Portland. Vogel said there was no medical reason James was not present.
“He’s just not there,” the coach said.
The Clippers committed 22 turnovers, including five each by George and Leonard. Coach Tyronn Lue was not happy his team gave up 30 points on mistakes, calling it “just too much messing around”.
“Everything will be fine,” Leonard said. “Two of my turnovers were offensive fouls. It’s just being aggressive, physical. We can live with it. “
Lakers: Visit the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday for the second game in a row.
Clippers: Host the New York Knicks on Sunday.