The message came two days after the
It almost worked.
Lakers center Tarik Black showed some grit and rookie
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
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
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
"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
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
"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
The game would get closer before slipping away again, like so many in this lost Lakers season.