The Los Angeles Lakers lost a close one in San Antonio Wednesday night.
The Spurs led by 13 points with less than six minutes remaining in the game, but the Lakers chose not to fold. They fought.
The team played hard on both ends of floor and wanted a win. They didn’t get it, but this game gave the team a much-needed lift in the energy and confidence department.
The Lakers allowed 108 points, but the Spurs struggled to only score five points in the final 5:36. Without Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol and Jordan Hill available, the Lakers found an unlikely source to provide points and rebounds: Earl Clark.
Clark is in his fourth year in the NBA and was included in the Howard trade along with Chris Duhon. On Wednesday, the former Louisville Cardinal set career-highs with 22 points and 13 rebounds. He didn’t just make shots and fill up the box score, Clark brought energy.
After the game, Coach Mike D’Antoni called Clark "phenomenal."
"Hopefully we found something there," D'Antoni added. He also confirmed that Clark will get more time on the floor after the game.
"Anyone who plays that well deserves, definitely, a second, third, fourth look."
All of Clark’s teammates were quick to praise the 24 year old, and no one really appeared surprised by the breakout performance. Clark’s opportunity to shine may be here, and his youth, energy and speed are exactly what the Lakers have been missing all season long. The boy plays hard.
After the game, Metta World Peace said Clark "played great. He’s been doing that in practice all year. The second unit in practice beats us all the time."
World Peace was another player who deserved some praise at the end of the night. He scored 23 points, pulled down eight rebounds, and snatched away seven steals against the Spurs.
World Peace improved on his 9-14, 24 points, six rebounds, and four steals performance from Tuesday’s loss in Houston. With two starters missing, Metta’s been doing his part.
Ultimately, the Lakers still fell short and notched another loss on the record. Losing in San Antonio, however, is no crime. The Spurs have won their last 11 games at home.
Something felt different about this loss. The energy, desire and hard work was apparent. The Lakers moved the ball on the offensive end, and the ball did find energy on its way into the basket late in the fourth quarter.
Ultimately, the game ended on a Kobe Bryant miss and an Earl Clark prayer.
Bryant went for a contested three-pointer and passed up an opportunity to set up Clark at the top of the key for an open look. Clark had hit that same shot on the Lakers’ previous possession to bring the game back to a single possession.
Bryant took the shot, Clark got the rebound and threw up a prayer. But the prayer was not answered.
Even if Wednesday was the best game of Clark’s life, it wasn’t good enough to get a win for the Lakers.