The game seemed to played in mud all night, as neither team had much of an offensive flow. After an early lead, the Lakers found themselves down the rest of the night, never really did find their rhythm, but were able to make enough plays down the stretch to pull out what was seemed to be a loss to their hallway rivals.
Kobe Bryant led the Lakers with 24 points, and while he only scored four points in the fourth quarter, his two baskets in the final two minutes of the game, set up the dramatic finish.
With the Clippers leading 84-83 after a Bryant basket, Ron Artest knocked away a pass for a steal, and Bryant then drilled an 18-foot jumper to put the Lakers up 85-84 with 22.8 seconds left.
After a timeout, the Clippers’ Eric Gordon, who scored 24 points himself, spun down the lane and found DeAndre Jordan for dunk, and an 86-85 lead with 15.5 seconds left. Not calling a timeout, the Lakers brought the ball down and Bryant was fouled by Gordon before he could get up a shot with 3.1 seconds left. The Clippers had a foul to give, although Gordon didn’t appear to commit the foul intentionally.
After a Laker timeout, Fisher took the inbound pass above the top of the three-point line, and drove the left side of the lane to the basket against Eric Bledsoe, and floated in the running layup at the buzzer over the outstretched fingers of DeAndre Jordan, who nearly blocked the shot, for the exciting 87-86 win.
Fisher only hit three baskets in the game, but the last one mattered the most.
Shannon Brown had a big night off the bench for the Lakers, scoring 16 points, and single-handedly keeping the Lakers in the game in the third quarter after they had fallen down by 12 points, including a 50-foot heave at the buzzer to bring the Lakers to 71-65 after three.
Lamar Odom, plagued by foul trouble, scored just 8 points and eventually fouled out of the game. Pau Gasol also continues to struggle, scoring just 10 points on 4-13 from the field, although he did grab 11 rebounds.
Clippers’ rookie star Blake Griffin, who also was in foul trouble early and struggled to find his game in the first half, wound up with 16 points and 11 rebounds in the loss. Eric Bledsoe added 11 points and seven assists, and DeAndre Jordan scored nine points, and grabbed 11 rebounds.
The Lakers were once again were outrebounded, 52-39, and shot a miserable 42.5% from the field. The Clippers were their own worst enemy down the stretch, turning the ball over on two straight possessions to allow the Lakers the chance to get close in the final two minutes. Ron Artest had four steals for Lakers.
While most thought the game wouldn’t be close, the Clippers were not intimidated by the world champs, and weathered an early 20-12 Lakers lead to take a 43-41 lead into the break. They led by 68-56 late in third before the Lakers mounted a charge to get back into the game. The lead changed hands three times in the final 22 seconds of the game.
The Lakers next game is on Friday in Chicago against the Bulls, who now have Carlos Boozer back in the lineup. Boozer didn’t play in the first meeting between the two teams, an 98-91 win by the Lakers back on November 23. The Lakers are hoping to have Andrew Bynum back on Tuesday when they play the Washington Wizards in the nation’s capital.