Byron Scott delivered the directive at a time when most people are easing into their days.
"Compete," the Lakers coach barked at his players while adding an expletive Tuesday at the morning shoot-around.
The message came two days after the Clippers had beaten the Lakers by 28 points, the latest shellacking in a rivalry that has become as one-sided as an attorney's closing arguments.
It almost worked.
Lakers center Tarik Black showed some grit and rookie Jordan Clarkson had a huge bounce-back game against the team that largely shut him down 48 hours earlier, but by the final seconds there was still no denying the pecking order in the Hallway Rivalry: Clippers > Lakers.
Forward Blake Griffin scored the last of his 27 points on a 23-foot jumper with 28 seconds left to help the Clippers hold on for a 105-100 triumph at Staples Center, their franchise-record seventh consecutive victory in the series. The average margin of defeat for the Lakers in those games: 24.6 points.
"I think we competed tonight," Clarkson said. "We played hard. We just fell short."
The final meeting of the season between the teams was so competitive the designated host Clippers had to play their starters in the fourth quarter for the first time in the series since they faced the Lakers on Halloween.
The Lakers were within one point midway through the quarter after Robert Sacre made a 17-foot jumper and Clippers forward Hedo Turkoglu spiked the ball on his way to the timeout huddle, earning a technical foul.
But J.J. Redick scored five points in a row and Chris Paul threw a lob to Matt Barnes for a two-handed dunk that gave the Clippers a 96-88 lead with 3:24 left. The Lakers did not get closer than three points the rest of the way.
Redick finished with 27 points and Paul had 19 points, 10 assists and five rebounds for the Clippers (53-26), who moved into a virtual tie with the Memphis Grizzlies (52-25) for third place in the Western Conference standings.
Clarkson watched footage of the Clippers' defensive schemes from their most recent matchup in an attempt to improve on his two-point performance Sunday.
You might say it paid off. In a big way.
He drove on Clippers center DeAndre Jordan late in the second quarter and banked in a scoop layup high off the glass while being fouled, one of several highlights on the way to 20 points.
"I was just coming in and trying to learn from last game," Clarkson said. "I didn't feel like I had an impact on the last game. We watched film and I just tried to get a win."
The best indication of how seriously the Clippers took the Lakers might have come when Coach Doc Rivers let his team skip its shoot-around after Redick made a half-court shot at the team's practice facility. Rivers said he had given his players that opportunity all season but this was the first time anyone made the shot.
Of course, there was nothing stopping Rivers from watching the ball go through the net and saying, "Just kidding."
The Clippers looked like a team in need of practice several hours later, a step slow on defense and not exactly resembling the NBA's most efficient offense even though they hold that distinction.
"We didn't play very well, but give them credit," Rivers said of the Lakers. "I thought they played extremely hard and it was nice to see."
Sixth man Jamal Crawford scored four points on two-for-seven shooting in his return from a five-week absence caused by a severely bruised calf.
Black had 16 points for the Lakers (20-57) but Ryan Kelly made only three of 17 shots, his misses triggering many Clippers possessions. The Lakers trailed by only 11 points at halftime and were within seven entering the fourth quarter.
The game would get closer before slipping away again, like so many in this lost Lakers season.
Follow Ben Bolch on Twitter @latbbolch