USA TODAY Sports
With a national audience watching, the Clippers outlasted the Lakers and won an entertaining game.
The Los Angeles Lakers made a late run to bring the score to within two late in the fourth quarter, but the Los Angeles Clippers showed once again why they deserve to hold the de facto city title as they prevailed, 107-102, in front of a packed Staples Center on Friday night.
The Clippers matched a franchise-high 11 consecutive victories at home with the win.
Chris Paul displayed his MVP form once again as he willed the Clippers to withstand a late Lakers' run to hang on and snap a two-game losing streak after winning 17 straight. He hit the dagger after a crossover on Kobe Bryant and subsequent jumper at the top of the key to give the Clippers a 103-97 lead with just 19.9 seconds remaining. He finished with 30 points and 13 assists on 11-of-25 shooting from the field.
Bryant was brilliant for the Lakers, and was the driving force behind the comeback. After being down by as many as 18 in the second quarter, he willed the purple and gold back into the contest and finished with 38 points, five steals and three assists.
But it was the same old story for the same "old' Lakers, who were hurt in the transition game as they allowed 14 fast break points and an astonishing 52 points in the paint. Dwight Howard finished with 17 points and eight rebounds.
Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro employed the Hack-a-Howard strategy late in the fourth quarter, and it proved effective as Howard was 3 of 6 down the stretch in the fourth quarter. The story of the game was the young, athletic Clippers taking relatively easy shots, shooting 50 percent from the field. The Lakers had to labor for their own shots and shot 46.1 percent.
The Lakers fell to 15-17 and sit in the 11th spot in the Western Conference. The Clippers improved to 26-8 and are now tied with the Oklahoma City Thunder for the best record in the NBA. The Lakers have lost three of their last four games.