Led by 42 points from Lou Williams, the LA Clippers outlasted the Los Angeles Lakers, 120-115, in an exciting, back-and-forth contest at Staples Center on Monday night.
The visiting Los Angeles Lakers missed eight of their first nine shots and immediately trailed by nine points. Thankfully for the purple and gold, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope lit a match and caught fire in the first quarter. Lakers coach Luke Walton noted his shooting guard's hot hand and kept the former Detroit Piston in for the entire first period.
Caldwell-Pope scored 16 points over those first 12 minutes, as the 24-year-old accounted for half of the Lakers' 32 points in the opening quarter. Consequently, the Lakers ended the first quarter only trailing by two points.
Predictably, Griffin played a central role to the Clippers' hot start.
By halftime, Griffin had 15 points, eight rebounds and four assists and looked well on his way to a monster stat line. The Clippers trailed by two points at that stage, and Caldwell-Pope had increased his tally to 20 points, which marked the third straight game of 20 or more points for the Georgia native.
In the third quarter, Caldwell-Pope continued to groove, as he secured a new season high and hit his fifth three-pointer of the night. Caldwell-Pope would end the night with 29 points to lead the visitors in scoring.
Unfortunately for the Lakers, their foul troubles became a central issue. By the end of the third quarter, four different Lakers had four fouls: Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Brook Lopez and Larry Nance Jr.
The second half, though, belonged to Williams. In his revenge game against his former team, the 31-year-old came to life with 15 points in the third quarter alone. The former Laker drew fouls and hit shots to help the Clippers stay within touching distance.
The Clippers only had three players tabbing double figures in points after three quarters: Austin Rivers, Griffin and Williams. After three quarters, the Lakers already had five players that had scored in double figures. The battle of the Clippers' superior, developed NBA skill versus the Lakers' depth and strength in numbers played out in exciting fashion at STAPLES Center on Monday night.
The fourth quarter continued the back-and-forth, exciting contest, as the Lakers opened up an eight-point lead with eight minutes remaining in the contest. From that point forward, Williams took over the game. The 31-year-old passed the 30-point mark for the game and continued to draw fouls and pour in the points.
Approaching the six-minute mark in the fourth quarter, Williams had inspired the Clippers to a one point lead. Back and forth the two co-tenants went with the split crowd joining in at exchanging barbs with chants of "Lets Go Lakers" sounding out from the Clippers' crowd.
With four minutes to play, the Lakers trailed by four points, but a freak play resulted in Rivers falling onto Griffin's leg. The awkward fall left the forward in pain, but he managed to get up and walk it off momentarily. Moments later, though, Griffin went to the locker room and did not return for the remainder of the contest. He finished the night with 26 points, 11 rebounds and six assists.
Even without Griffin, Williams continued to score and was a man possessed. His 40th point gave the Clippers a three-point advantage late. When Brandon Ingram's three-pointer did not drop to level the score, the Lakers had to foul Williams.
Two free throws later, Williams hit 42 points, and the Clippers claimed a 120-115 victory. The win leap-frogged the Lakers in the standings. The Lakers fell to 8-12, while the Clippers improved to 8-11.