On Wednesday night at Staples Center, the Los Angeles Lakers lost. This time, the New Orleans Pelicans flew into Los Angeles and claimed a 21-point victory with Anthony Davis scoring 20 points, pulling down seven rebounds and claiming six assists. Also, the big man finished with four block shots, which was twice as many as the entire Lakers team.
While the game got out of hand in the second half and even reached a 25-point difference at one point, rookie Jordan Clarkson continued to improve. On this occasion, the 22-year-old point guard started strong and put up 11 points, five rebounds and five assists on 4/5 shooting in the first quarter.
For most rookies, that would be a great game and not just a great quarter, but Clarkson is not playing like any ordinary rookie. Most recently, Clarkson scored 26 points, dished out 11 assists and grabbed six rebounds in an overtime victory over the Philadelphia 76ers. That was on Monday.
On Wednesday, Clarkson's inspired first quarter allowed the Lakers to hang with the Pelicans for the first 12 minutes. Over the final three quarters, however, the Pelicans would outscore the Lakers 84 to 61 and comfortably win 113-92. Clarkson, however, managed to play his game despite the unbalanced scoreline.
When the rookie eventually got the hook with 7:12 to play in the game, he had 18 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds. Had Clarkson managed three more rebounds, he would have joined Elgin Baylor, Jerry West and Earvin "Magic" Johnson as the only Lakers' rookies to ever record a triple-double.
"I was not aware at all," Lakers coach Byron Scott claimed he did not know the rookie was approaching his first career triple-double when he pulled Clarkson with over seven minutes to play in a one-sided loss.
After the game, Clarkson said he did not know that he was only three rebounds away until he left the game. Incidentally, Kobe Bryant told Clarkson he only needed three more boards to accomplish the feat. However, the rookie said he did not particularly care about statistics and preferred to only focus on winning, which the Lakers did not come close to doing on Wednesday night.
Despite falling short of his first career triple-double, Clarkson's play dominated the post-game discussion. The rookie recorded only the second double-double of his career, and he did it in back-to-back games. Further, Clarkson only committed one turnover and made seven of his nine shots.
Even in a lopsided defeat, Clarkson still provided the Lakers signs of success.
Next, the Lakers will practice on Thursday before welcoming the Portland Trail Blazers to Staples Center on Friday night.
Notes: Lakers rookie Tarik Black scored 16 points, which was a career-high. Ryan Kelly scored 12 points--meaning he has scored in double figures in four of six games since moving to the starting lineup (and moving to power forward). Wayne suffered a mild separation of the right shoulder and will be reevaluated on Thursday.