NBA

Lakers Beat Clippers on Christmas Night

The Lakers nearly blew an 18-point lead but held on to claim a much-needed victory over the LA Clippers on Christmas night

For the first time since Oct. 29, 2013, the Los Angeles Lakers beat the LA Clippers.

On Christmas night at Staples Center, the Lakers delivered a gift to the home crowd after digging an early hole, climbing out by halftime and eventually burying the short-handed Clippers in the second half. Seven different Lakers scored in double figures, including all five starters, in the victory. J.J. Redick led the Clippers with 22 points in 26 minutes but did not play in the fourth quarter due to a hamstring injury.

The Clippers were already without Blake Griffin and Chris Paul due to injuries.

Sunday night was an odd game, though, as the Lakers stumbled early defensively and let the Clippers jump out to an 11-point lead in the first quarter. The purple and gold, who were dressed in special Christmas white jerseys, regained their footing with Thomas Robinson coming in and hitting a couple shots and providing a bizarre finish to the first quarter. Robinson, who is known for his play in the paint, dribbled the ball coast-to-coast and hit a floater to beat the first quarter buzzer.

The Clippers still led 31-27 after 12 minutes, however, and continued to hold an advantage for the duration of the second quarter. During those second 12 minutes, the Clippers regained control and popped their advantage back up to eight points. Thanks to Nick Young's hot shooting, the Lakers managed to trim that difference and entered the intermission only trailing by three points, 58-55.

In the third quarter, the Lakers took charge.

"I thought we took our jobs very seriously in the third quarter," Lakers coach Luke Walton said after the game.

"The third quarter, I thought, our guys came out ready, locked in, mainly defensively. Transition defense was terrible in the first half, and we did a much better job of taking away easy baskets, including transition [in the third quarter]." 

Walton added, "That's the way we need to play."

Riding veterans Timofey Mozgov and Luol Deng, the home team scored the first 13 points of the second half and held the visiting Clippers scoreless for the first four minutes of the third quarter. Mozgov finished the game with 19 points, which tied Young for team honors. Deng collected a double-double and finished with 13 points and 12 rebounds.

From there, the Lakers extended their advantage to 18 points with 15 minutes remaining in the contest. Fast forward three minutes, and the Lakers held a 15-point lead entering the fourth quarter and looked like they would cruise to their 12th win of the season. Over those vital 12 minutes, the Lakers had outscored the Clippers 34-16 in the third quarter.

This is Hollywood, after all, so the Lakers managed to build drama by returning the favor at the start of the fourth quarter. The Lakers went scoreless for the first 3:41 seconds of the final period, until Lou Williams hit a free throw. Suddenly, the Clippers were only down by four points and LA looked prime to blow another big lead.

The back-and-forth game then picked up until Williams briefly took over the fourth quarter for the Lakers, which is a bit of a habit for the Lakers' sixth man. Williams scored seven points in the fourth quarter and helped the Lakers push the lead out to 11 points with 3:40 showing on the game clock.

From there, the Lakers went on to win by a final tally of 111-102, with the only late drama being whether the home crowd would get to go home with free tacos. Marreese Speights hit a late three-pointer to push the Clippers over the 100-point mark and drew the ire of the Lakers' faithful.

With the victory, the Lakers improved to 12-22, while the Clippers fell to 22-10 on the season. The last time the Lakers had all five starters score in double figures was back in April of 2015.

Notes: Julius Randle finished with 13 points, eight assists, seven rebounds and two steals in 31 productive minutes on the court. Jamal Crawford led the Clippers' late rally and finished tied for game-high honors with 22 points on 7-17 shooting. 

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