Published January 14, 2017
LOS ANGELES -- Payback will be a focus of the Los Angeles Clippers in a return engagement against the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday at Staples Center.
The Lakers earned a 111-102 victory over the Clippers the last time they met on Christmas Day. Injuries forced Clippers stars Chris Paul and Blake Griffin to watch from the sideline in their holiday attire, but it was still a breakthrough for the Lakers, who ended an 11-game losing streak to the Clippers.
However, the Clippers (27-14), who will serve as the home team, have won the last eight meetings on their own floor.
The Clippers also have shown lately why they are one of the Western Conference's top clubs, winning five straight since being mired in a six-game losing streak.
"I don't know what the saying is, (but) I'm going to kill it. But if you're going through hell, keep going, and you're going to get out of it. That's what our guys did," Clippers coach Doc Rivers said.
In their last outing Wednesday, a 105-96 win over the Orlando Magic, J.J. Redick scored 22 points with five 3-pointers, Paul added 18 points, seven rebounds and six assists and DeAndre Jordan contributed 20 rebounds and 10 points for the Clippers.
The Clippers also benefitted from a solid fourth-quarter effort by their bench. Marreesse Speights scored all 13 of his points in the final period as the reserves produced 22 of 32 points in the fourth.
"That's huge, to come back into the game with somewhat of a lead and to finish it off," Paul said.
The Lakers (15-28) were finished almost from the start in a 134-94 shellacking by the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday. The Lakers trailed by 17 points in the first quarter and allowed 72 points in the first half as Kawhi Leonard, who led the Spurs with 31 points in three quarters, pounded them.
Julius Randle had 22 points, six boards and five assists in a losing effort.
"In my opinion, we gave up too quickly," Lakers coach Luke Walton said, according to the Los Angeles Times. "We gave up as if, 'Oh, this is going to be too hard for us tonight,' which is not OK. Which is not the way we play as a team or the way we want to play as a team."
Obviously, the Lakers will need a better showing against the Clippers if they expect to prevail. The Lakers, who have lost their last two contests, have shown they are capable of playing well at times, but their youth and inconsistency has prevented any extended winning streaks.
Before the blowout by the Spurs and a sloppy second half in a loss to the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday, they earned back-to-back double-digit wins over the Orlando Magic and the Miami Heat last Friday and Sunday.
But the Lakers' defensive liabilities have been too much to overcome. They continue to be among the NBA's worst defenses, giving up 110.3 points (tied for 26th entering Friday's games) and allowing opponents to shoot 47.9 percent per game (last in the league).
The Clippers are holding the opposition to 102.3 points (seventh) and limiting teams to 44.1 percent shooting (tied for fourth).