From Kevin Ding, OC Register: To understand just how much the Lakers have going on during the regular season, just consider how Kobe Bryant even has side business to his side business. Bryant has filmed a movie – yes, he is acting in it, and it is really being termed a movie – with a full-fledged Hollywood director: Robert Rodriguez, who made “Spy Kids” and “Sin City.” The movie will be released – and figures to go viral, Nike surely assumes – in its entirety in mid-February at All-Star weekend, when the game for which Bryant is the leading fan vote-getter will be played at Staples Center. It is all being done as a promotion for the Zoom Kobe VI shoe and Bryant’s new “True Colors” apparel line. The movie will be billed this way: “The world’s best basketball player. … Biggest challenge yet. … Kobe Bryant is the Black Mamba. … A Robert Rodriguez film.” So, a midseason “rivalry” game against the Clippers isn’t Kobe’s biggest challenge yet? We saw on the court Sunday that it obviously isn’t Pau Gasol’s either.
From Janis Carr, OC Register: For 24 minutes, the Lakers were in control of Sunday’s game against the Clippers. Clippers rookie sensation Blake Griffin had two points — a dunk in the first quarter. Guard Eric Gordon, the team’s leading scorer, had scored just 13 points and veteran Baron Davis had 10. The Lakers’ newly tweaked defense was in full swing as the Clippers had hit just 35 percent of their shots. Then came the third quarter and the Lakers defense went into hiding. For the next 12 minutes, Griffin tore up double teams, the Clippers boosted their shooting percentage to 45.5 percent, and Gordon went 4 for 6 from the field, including a 3-point shot at the buzzer that seemed to bring the Clippers back to life. After trailing by 12 points in the third quarter, the rejuvenated Clippers had closed the gap to 71-68 on Gordon’s buzzer-beater.
From Mark Medina, LA Times: Off an inbounds pass, Clippers guard Eric Gordon hit a three-pointer off an inbounds pass just as the third quarter ended. Just like Shannon Brown’s 60-foot heave to end the third quarter proved to be the spark that led the Lakers to an 87-86 victory Dec. 8 over the Clippers, so to did Gordon’s third quarter carry a momentum swing into the final period. For all the problems the Lakers demonstrated in their previous matchup against the Clippers, they at least showed how veteran experience prevails in late-game plays. Those included Bryant jumpers, Artest steals and of course, Derek Fisher’s game-winner.
From Andy Kamenetzky, Land O’ Lakers: Before the game, I wondered if Kobe’s recently efficient roll could be slowed by Eric Gordon checking him. Even acknowledging Kobe’s three inches on the Clipper, that strength and overall defensive awareness struck me as containing the potential to make Kobe work. Well, as the saying goes, you can’t teach height, and Kobe made great use of his to launch shots. Often working against Gordon in isolation, Kobe wisely concentrated less on pushing the issue to get low position. Instead, his back typically faced Gordon just long enough to create space, then turn around and drain a J. Otherwise, the kid was worked in space while Kobe faced up or drove, and Kobe earned 13 trips to the line (not literally at all at Gordon’s expense).
From C.A. Clark, Silver Screen and Roll: How many times have we seen the Lakers play a game like this? Jump out to an early lead, let the other team back in it, spend the whole game just slightly behind, and then make a strong 4th quarter push to seal the game … I can’t even count the number of times I’ve seen it happen. Except today, it was the Lakers who fought back from that early defecit, and the Lakers who saw the game slip away as their counterparts out executed them down the stretch in the 4th quarter. My preview turned out to be more fitting than I could have guessed, as the Clippers truly pulled a role reversal on the defending champs.
From Jordan Heimer, Clippers Blog: I keep going back to that Blake Griffin locker room interview after the Miami game. “Teams can’t come in here and punk us,” he said. “Not by a long shot.” Sadly, I erased the game, and I’m worried I don’t have the quote exactly right – except for “punked.” I know he said “punked.” Blake is usually as reticent in his interviews as the next pro athlete, but punked caught my ear. He could have said “Good teams compete at home,” or “We always expect to win.” “Punked” connoted an acknowledgement how the rest of the league often regards the Clippers – as an automatic victory, half a day off… a team you could punk.