The Clippers were able to hold their opponent at bay for over three quarters last night, but unfortunately for them, that opponent was the Lakers, and the games last four quarters. The Clips led by four points at halftime, and led 81-79 with less than eight minutes to play in the game. That's when the Lakers woke up and played like the Lakers, increasing their defensive efforts to go on a 22-0 run to put the game away and make the final score look like just about everyone expected it to.
Even though the Clippers lost, this was still a much better outing for them than it was the last time they played the Lakers, right? In that one, they lost by an embarrassing 38 points and completely gave up after halftime. It would appear that the team has made some progress. But according to head coach Mike Dunleavy, competing before ultimately losing isn't something he's going to necessarily be satisfied with.
"I'm not looking for moral victories," Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy said. "I'm looking for the real thing. ... For us to get better, we have to finish it off. ... At the six-minute mark, it was (close). Then the Lakers got tougher and we got softer."
It's clear that the coach doesn't want his team to accept a loss as some sort of triumph, but he should at least recognize the effort and the fact that the club did play some pretty good defense themselves. The Clips held the Lakers to just under 39% shooting from the field, and against a team that can go ten deep and is among the most efficient teams in the league offensively, that's definitely something worth praising.
There's also the issue of Marcus Camby, who's still working himself into game shape, and was only able to play 16 minutes. This meant that the Clippers were forced to go with a smaller lineup for most of the game, which resulted in them getting out-rebounded by the bigger Lakers by 10. So having a fourth quarter lead against the league's best team when you're still trying to get your own club healthy and on the same page is really a pretty decent accomplishment, all things considered. Hopefully a day after the game has had a chance to sink in, Dunleavy can see some positives in his team's performance.