Paul, Clippers cruise past Lakers

LOS ANGELES -- Chris Paul expressed sadness watching five-time NBA champion Kobe Bryant's career wind down in losing fashion with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Doc Rivers? Not so much.

"Oh, no sadness my way," the coach said before his Los Angeles Clippers pounded the Lakers 103-81 on Tuesday night at Staples Center. "I love Kobe, but I'd never cheer for him to win."

Paul scored 25 points and handed out eight assists in three quarters, and the Clippers beat the Lakers for the 10th consecutive time.

"It's our defense," said Paul, who converted 10 of 14 shots from the floor. "The reason we got out to the big lead that we did was our defense. I think our first unit, we jumped on them early, then our second unit came in there and tried to keep up the pace. Everything with us, like we say night in and night in, starts on the defensive end."

That didn't stop Paul from coming to the defense of his good friend, Bryant, who scored six points, missing 10 of the 12 shots he took in 22 minutes.

"I think that's the toughest part after competing against (Bryant) for so long, it's watching how it's ending," Paul said. "He's a competitor; he wants to win every night. He's saying all the right stuff, doing all the right things, but (Bryant) wants to win. To see it end like this, it's tough."

Bryant, though, received rousing ovation from fans after he was introduced during the Clippers' home game. That followed a video presentation by the Clippers with Chris Paul and Paul Pierce showing their appreciation for his 20-year career.

"It is crazy to think how far the Clippers' organization has come since I came into the league," Bryant said. "We have had some pretty intense battles, especially since we share the same building, and it is pretty cool for them to give me the type of treatment they did tonight."

Jeff Green came off the bench to score 21 points for the Clippers (49-28), who captured their sixth win in seven games. None of the team's starters played in the fourth quarter, and all 13 Clippers scored.

Metta World Peace led the Lakers with 17 points, while D'Angelo Russell and Ryan Kelly added 12 apiece.

The Lakers (16-61) tied their franchise mark for most losses in a season, set during last year's campaign.

"In this league, if you are going to be soft and passive, you are normally going to get beat, which is what is happening to us right," said Lakers coach Byron Scott, who has questioned his team's effort and toughness for much of the season.

A third-quarter surge allowed the Clippers to bolt past the Lakers. The Clippers used a 24-5 run and turned an eight-point edge at the half into a 76-49 advantage after a Jamal Crawford jumper with 3:38 left in the third quarter. They led 84-60 heading into the final period.

The Clippers outscored the Lakers 32-16 in the third.

The Clippers roared out to a 20-2 lead after a runner by Paul at 6:46 of the first quarter. The Lakers showed some resiliency after that, pulling within seven on several occasions in the first half before the Clippers took a 52-44 lead at the break.

The Lakers managed to stay within striking range despite shooting 32.6 percent to 48.8 percent for the Clippers in the first half. Overall, the Clippers converted 51.3 percent to 31.3 percent for the Lakers.

Blake Griffin played his second game for the Clippers since returning from injuries and a four-game suspension. Griffin finished with four points on 1-of-5 shooting and added three rebounds and three assists in 17 minutes. He committed four turnovers.

"I was just trying not to force anything," Griffin said. "I was not playing a lot of minutes, either. It will come. I just have to be patient."

Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson, who had 10 points, left the game early in the fourth quarter with a bruised right fibula. He will be re-examined Wednesday.

NOTES: Clippers coach Doc Rivers exhibited a sense of humor discussing the imminent retirement of Lakers F Kobe Bryant before game. Rivers shared recollections of his time coaching the Boston Celtics when he faced Bryant and the Lakers in the NBA Finals in 2008 and 2010. They split the two matches, with Boston winning in 2008, but now the Lakers are suffering through hard times. ... Clippers F Paul Pierce missed his fourth game with a right ankle sprain and right knee contusion, but he could return Wednesday when the two teams meet again. ... Lakers F Larry Nance Jr. was held out because knee issues have prevented him from playing him in back-to-back contests. He also could play Wednesday.