Perhaps a showdown with the Pacific Division-rival Sacramento Kings this evening is what the Los Angeles Clippers need to get back into the win column.
The Clippers had won six in a row overall and seven straight at home until losing to their Staples Center co-tenants, the Lakers, last night. Andrew Bynum was too much for the Clippers, posting 36 points, and Kobe Bryant netted 31 on 13 of 19 shooting.
Caron Butler led the Clippers with 28 points and Chris Paul finished with 22 points and 16 assists in defeat. Blake Griffin had 15 points and 14 rebounds, while DeAndre Jordan also had a double-double of 11 points and 13 boards for the Clippers, who are now 2 1/2 games behind the Lakers for the lead in Pacific and the third seed in the Western Conference.
"I didn't like the way we played in the first half, but in the second half we were more aggressive," Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said. "Our turnovers hurt us and Bynum hurt us definitely. We had opportunities down the stretch, but they did what they had to do to win."
The Clippers were trying to build on a rare win in Dallas on Monday and haven't taken a season series from the Lakers since 1992-93. They are 12-13 as the visitor this season.
Sacramento will wrap up a four-game homestand Thursday and is 1-2 on the residency following Tuesday's 109-100 setback to the Phoenix Suns.
DeMarcus Cousins poured in a career-high 41 points to go with 12 rebounds and rookie Isaiah Thomas scored 25 points and dished out seven assists for the last-place Kings, who have lost six of eight games overall and fell to 14-13 as the host.
"I want our guys to understand that they need to play well," said Kings coach Keith Smart about his team's role as spoiler for the rest of the season. "We have to look at it like this is our playoffs. So when the opportunity comes to us in the future, we have learned from situations like this."
Kings shooting guard Marcus Thornton, who is averaging 18.7 ppg, missed the game due to a bruised left calf and is doubtful for tonight. Meanwhile, Thomas is averaging 20.0 ppg and 6.8 apg in the last five contests. Cousins has recorded double-doubles in six of the last eight games.
The Kings dropped a 108-100 decision to the Clippers on March 1 this season and are winless in four of the past five meetings between the teams. The Kings have won six of the last eight games against the Clippers in Sacramento and lead the all-time series, 110-71 (66-48 as the host).