What a grand way to celebrate Valentine's Day.
When I purchased tickets this past September to see the Lakers play the Clippers, I definitely thought I'd get a better show than that. I thought I would see marquee players deliver marquee games, instead, I was treated to a one-sided affair that was downright embarrassing from start to finish.
Without taking a look at any of the box score information, let me give you a quick rundown of my thoughts on the game.
First off, what an awful start. The Lakers got down 15-0 right off the bat. The Lakers missed a bunch of wide open three-pointers, and the Clippers seemed to sink just about everything. Blake Griffin was especially hot. I distinctly remember him dominating and finishing the opening quarter with 18 points. Griffin pulled out the full arsenal, with dunks, jumpers, hooks, up and unders, just about everything to make the Lakers' defenders look foolish.
With the Clippers dominating, the crowd was especially dormant in the first quarter. With nothing to cheer for other than a couple of nice plays from Kobe Bryant, I sat in my nosebleeds and wondered how tame we sounded on a national TNT telecast. Speaking of Bryant, he had some memorable moments. It was a joy watching him bully Jamal Crawford and Chauncey Billups in the post, and once Caron Butler was assigned to him, the shoulder chucks and arm locks were in full effect. After serving as the only scoring threat in the first quarter, one that the Lakers lost 31-17, Bryant was covered with a man, and a soft double for the rest of the game. Anytime he caught the ball, the entire defense focused on him, and he tried to make them pay. Bryant repeatedly swung the ball to the open man, yet time after time, the Lakers bricked open shots. Honestly, I don't know how he ended up with 11 assists, I don't recall any buckets going down other than the dunks he spoonfed.
In the second quarter, the bench came in and did a great job. Steve Blake pushed the tempo, and Antawn Jamison seemed to score at the rim whenever he cut. The efforts of those two got the deficit down to just three points with about three minutes remaining in the second quarter. However, once the starters came back in, the Clippers got going again, and they finished on a scorching run to close the quarter, finishing the half ahead 64-52.
Notably absent throughout the big run by the Lakers was Dwight Howard. Simply put, Howard was awful. I watched him gain inside position on numerous rebound attempts, yet he would fail to come up with the board as the ball would bobble off of his hand, or DeAndre Jordan would nudge him and reach over the top, or he would fail to chase it down. It was disheartening. I also watched him bobble passes on the pick and roll. I watched him get owned in the post by some sweet moves from Griffin. I watched him rotate on defense like he was stuck in quicksand. I watched him struggle to seal his man and get good position on the block for easy buckets. I saw him miss gimme buckets at the rim and get swatted by Lamar Odom. I saw it all, live. It's a lot different seeing it live than it is on television. I don't know how to explain it, it just seems more profound.
All I can say is, I hope he is still seriously feeling pain in his back or something, because, I just don't know how to explain his performance. Either he is broken down and his game is never going to be what it once was, or he is playing through some serious pain. It has to be one or the other, and for his sake, and the Lakers' sake, I hope it's the latter.
On a side note, when I first purchased these tickets, I purposely made sure not to even attempt to get any tickets before January. The rumors over the offseason were that Howard wouldn't be ready to play until December, so I figured I would give an extra month or two just in case. Looks like it didn't even matter. I witnessed Andrew Bynum drop his career high, 42 points, on the Clippers just a couple of years ago, and I also saw Bynum get a triple double in Game 1 of the playoffs against the Denver Nuggets last season with 10 blocks. Obviously, Bynum is hurt, so it's all for nil, but seeing each of these guys live, Howard sure has a lot of catching up to do.
In the third quarter, the game got out of hand. Chauncey Billups and Caron Butler took turns annihilating the Lakers with bombs from deep. It seemed like they couldn't miss if they tried. It's like that rebounding drill, where your coach shoots threes and attempts to miss on purpose as you battle your teammate for the rebound, except your coach keeps making the shot despite intentionally attempting to miss, and eventually you just have to laugh. It was a lot like that. With those two hitting everything from deep, the deficit reached 20 points, and from there, the game was lost. Actually, let me amend that statement, the game was lost when the Lakers allowed a "poison pill" (scroll to the last paragraph of the link to understand the Lakers' poison pill woes) to start the game, and then continued to allow the Clippers to pile up 30+ point quarters from there on out.
In the fourth quarter, I expected Bryant to get ejected. He got hacked on like three straight possessions, yet he only received the whistle once. He eventually picked up a technical, and once that happened, I figured he was pining to get tossed as the team trailed by over 20 points with six minutes remaining. Bryant eventually was subbed out, and the flag was waived as Robert Sacre and Darrius Morris entered the game.
Overall, the game was a dud, and it wasn't exactly the riveting date I had in mind to celebrate Valentine's Day with my boo. I thought we would be treated to an epic "Battle LA" experience, one that she would remember as a very exciting moment in her life, instead, she looked at me with nine minutes left in the fourth quarter and said, "Are we really going to stay and watch this?". I couldn't help but laugh and give her a kiss. I jokingly replied, "Hey, you know the Lakers are going to cut it down to like five with a minute left and then lose." We ended up staying, and the Lakers didn't get anywhere near pulling off that scenario.
On this Valentine's Day, the Lakers broke my heart. Fortunately, I still have a great girlfriend.
Get more great NBA analysis over at Blog is My Medium, Sports is My Message