LOS ANGELES — The Clippers know who they are. They are Chris Paul’s team, Lob City, a lot of pick-and-roll, Jamal Crawford breaking guys ankles, Blake Griffin attacking the rim
The Lakers are… still trying to figure it out.
Through three games the Lakers have tried on more personalities than an 13-year-old girl. And none of them have fit.
The result of all that is when the Lakers met the Clippers Friday night that the Clippers won convincingly 105-95.
Another game, another night where after a loss everybody in the Lakers locker room was preaching patience — something the fans in Los Angeles are displaying little of.
“(Being patient) is particularly hard for me because I’m not the most patient individual in the world, but you have to be,” Kobe said after the game. “You have to stay persistent, you have to stay committed to what you’re doing and just keep on trucking.”
Lakers fans are ready to back that truck right over coach Mike Brown and his Princeton offense, but the issues are more complex than that. And they are all interconnected.
With Steve Nash out for the night and Steve Blake at the point, the Lakers actually seemed to run a better spaced offense early on because they knew it was going to be Princeton every time down (no wondering if Nash wants to do pick and roll). Still, they seem to think and not react, and often the result is odd floor balance and it seems to bring big men away from rebounding positions a lot.
That spacing didn’t slow the turnovers or bad decisions that have plagued the Lakers since training camp. And as they did against Portland the Lakers started to abandon their offense as they tried to climb back in. With Dwight Howard in foul trouble most of the first half the Lakers tried some other things on offense — Metta World Peace decided to be a three-point shooter and went 1-of-7 from beyond the arc.
Meanwhile, Chris Paul knew exactly what he wanted to do — he continually came off the high pick then when Gasol showed out to stop him he pulled Gasol away and isolated himself against the Laker big man 23 feet from the rim. Then he carved up Gasol (who started to look worn out) and the Lakers as a whole. CP3 finished with 18 points and 15 assists — he had more assists than the entire Lakers team.
Paul and the Clippers were playing with confidence, like a team that believes it can be a contender.
A few minutes into the first quarter the Clippers went on a 16-6 run, the Clippers led and their depth allowed them to keep a comfortable lead most of the game. Jamal Crawford had 21 off the bench to lead the Clippers.
With the Lakers needing points Princeton was kicked to the curb and it became the Kobe Bryant show — he had 40 points on just 24 shots and continues to be very efficient this season. But he had to overcome 20 team turnovers and a defense that continued to not get a lot of consecutive stops.
The Clippers were smart with their double-teaming, doing a good job of taking Howard and Kobe and making them give up the ball, only to find guys were not in the right space to get the pass.
“It’s hard when only a couple of guys really know the offense,” Lakers backup forward Antawn Jamison said after the game, although he seemed to be one of the culprits as he seemed to float through the game not looking for his shot.
Meanwhile, the Clippers have a bench that has been huge for them — Crawford, Erick Bledsoe, Matt Barnes and Lamar Odom all had quality nights. Odom may have had the shot of the night, a 30-foot three up against the shot clock.
“I think our bench, we had some timely shots,” Paul said. “We had some timely shots. L.O. hit a big one, Matt hit a big one off the glass. But once again, our bench stepped up for us.”
That bench is giving the Clippers confidence. Chris Paul is giving them confidence. The 2-0 start to the season is giving them confidence. The Clippers know they are good and are out to prove it.
The Lakers, they are still preaching patience while they try to figure out who they are.