On Friday night, the shadow of Blake Griffin's absence loomed over the Clippers, his right hand injured from a punch he threw at a team employee still the main topic in their home game at Staples Center.
But just as the Clippers did when Griffin was sidelined with a partially torn left quad tendon, they continued to push on without their All-Star forward, delivering a 105-93 victory over the Lakers.
Though the Clippers won't have Griffin for four to six weeks after he broke his hand hitting assistant equipment manager Matias Testi last Saturday night in Toronto, the Lakers have their own troubles of losing games at a record pace.
The Lakers did hang tough for a while until the Clippers used their superior talent to improve to 14-3 without Griffin. The Clippers are also on a 15-3 run overall.
Chris Paul led the Clippers attack with 27 points and seven assists.
The Clippers have defeated the Lakers a franchise-best nine consecutive times, outscoring them by 13.8 points in the previous eight games.
“I just like that every night there is someone different for us that kind of pitches in,” Clippers Coach Doc Rivers said. “And that's good.”
The question now becomes how can the Clippers keep winning and hang onto home-court advantage while Griffin recovers.
“We know it's going to be hard. We knew that when he got injured,” Rivers said. “We're doing well right now. We know that it's hard to keep doing this. We understand all that but all we can do every night is lace them up and try to win that game.”
Julius Randle (23 points, 14 rebounds), Jordan Clarkson (17 points) and Lou Williams (11) led the Lakers while Kobe Bryant sat out the game for rest.
But the Lakers still saw their season-high losing streak pushed to nine consecutive games, one shy of the franchise worst, set during the 1993-94 season.
They didn't help themselves by turning the ball over 18 times.
“Two losses in a row is demoralizing,” Lakers Coach Byron Scott said. “I hate losing two. So obviously nine is something that we didn't imagine, but it's something that we have to deal with. And the only way we can deal with it is to take each loss and try to learn from it and try to get better for the next game.”