Battle Of LA: Lakers, Clippers Battle For Bragging Rights
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LOS ANGELES (AP) – After a franchise-record winning streak, the Los Angeles Clippers hope to rediscover their shooting touch and stop a skid.
The Los Angeles Lakers have also stumbled following their longest win streak of the season.
Having dropped two in a row since taking 17 straight, the Clippers will try to match a franchise record with their 11th straight home victory when they host the Lakers on Friday night.
The Clippers’ 17-game run through Sunday is the longest in the NBA since Boston reeled off 19 straight wins in 2008-09. However, they’ve posted season-low shooting percentages in each of their last two games – both defeats.
The Clippers (25-8) made 38.5 percent in a 92-78 loss at Denver on Tuesday and 36.4 percent in a 115-94 defeat at Golden State on Wednesday.
They also shot a combined 13 for 58 (22.4 percent) from 3-point range and 41 for 68 (60.3) from the foul line in the two games. The Clippers hit 48.5 percent from the field and 34.6 percent from behind the arc during their win streak.
“We just kind of hit a little bit of a wall,” forward Blake Griffin said after Wednesday’s loss.
Griffin certainly appeared to, totaling 22 points and shooting 27.3 percent in the two losses. He shot 58.2 percent during the winning streak.
A return home could give the Clippers a good chance to get back on track. They’ve outscored opponents by an average of 106.3-88.3 during their 10-game run at Staples, and can match the franchise home mark of 11 wins in a row set Feb. 15-March 18, 1979, when they were based in San Diego.
Chris Paul will try for a third straight outstanding game against the Clippers’ intracity rivals. He had 18 points and 15 assists in a 105-95 win over the Lakers on Nov. 2 and has totaled 40 points and 31 assists in the past two meetings.
The Clippers are expected to have forward Caron Butler back after he missed Wednesday’s game because of personal reasons. That might not bode well for the Lakers, as Butler has gone 11 for 23 from beyond the arc in the last four matchups.
The Lakers (15-16) appeared to have broken out of a season-long funk with five straight victories, but they’ve since lost two of three. Los Angeles suffered a 103-99 defeat to visiting Philadelphia on Tuesday, which followed a rant from Kobe Bryant in which he called the Lakers “old” and “slow.”
“It’s frustrating,” guard Steve Nash said. “We’re in a tough position and we really have a lot of ground to make up. We’re not finding the answers right now.”
Nash had 12 points and 10 assists against the 76ers and has averaged 12.2 and 9.6 in five games since returning to the lineup.
Not helping matters is Pau Gasol’s sore foot, which the star forward continues to play through. Gasol scored 11 points and shot 2 of 12 on Tuesday, and he’s averaged 12.8 points and 40.9 percent from the field in six games after missing eight because of the injury. He’s averaging 18.5 points and 51.8 percent from the floor in his career.
Playing small forward in coach Mike D’Antoni’s redesigned rotation, Bryant looks for another big game against the Clippers after scoring 40 and shooting 14 of 23 in November. Bryant has averaged 34.8 points and 54.6 percent from the floor in his last five against the Clippers.
After making 10 of 46 (21.7 percent) from 3-point range in their last two games, the Lakers hope to improve their efficiency against a Clippers team that allowed the Warriors to go 12 of 23 from beyond the arc Wednesday.
They’re also looking for their fifth win in seven meetings with the Clippers.
The Lakers have won three of four at Staples, but as the home team.