The Lakers (20-56) fell on Sunday night to the Clippers (52-26). Here are five takeaways from the Clippers' 106-78 victory at Staples Center.
1. The Clippers seemed to target Jordan Clarkson with their defense as the key to beating the Lakers, sending multiple players to guard the rookie.
"[They] were really blitzing the screens hard, doubling the screens, getting the ball out of my hands," Clarkson said after the game. "I didn't want to force anything. I felt I started to a little bit towards the end -- it's just not in my game."
Clarkson said he's looking forward to seeing film of the game, so he can learn from the loss, especially before the Lakers visit the Clippers on Tuesday.
"I told [the coaches], when I got taken out in the third, I told them, 'I need the tape,'" he said.
Coach Byron Scott noted the Clippers were successful taking away Clarkson's space.
"Chris [Paul] did a good job of forcing him into the screens," said Scott. "DeAndre [Jordan] and Blake [Griffin] did a great job of showing and helping."
2. Paul didn't do much as a scorer on Sunday, taking just seven shots, making three for seven points, but he perfectly orchestrated the Clippers' offense with 15 assists and just one turnover.
The Lakers' starting guards Jeremy Lin and Clarkson combined for eight points (six from Lin) on three of 14 shooting (21.4%).
Dwight Buycks, playing with the Lakers on a 10-day contract, scored nine points with an assist but turned the ball over four times in 21 1/2 minutes.
Through two games with the Lakers, he's shooting a perfect four for four from three-point range.
3. Guard Jamal Crawford (calf) is expected to make his return to the lineup when the Clippers and Lakers get a quick rematch.
"It's huge," J.J. Redick said of Crawford. "He's one of the premier reserves in the NBA, a great sixth man, a great scorer, and a guy who can finish games. He's been huge for us in the two years that I've been here, so I can't wait to get him back on the court."
4. The Clippers are now two wins ahead of the Portland Trail Blazers (50-26) but just one above the San Antonio Spurs (51-26). Losses could drop the Clippers below their current fifth seeding but the franchise is still within reach of the second-seeded Houston Rockets (53-25) and third-seeded Memphis Grizzlies (52-25).
5. The Lakers look secure as the fourth seed in the lottery standings, four wins behind the Orlando Magic (24-53) and two ahead of the Philadelphia 76ers (18-60).
The Sixers play just four more games. If they win two, with the Lakers losing all of their final six, the two franchises would head into the draft lottery tied in the third and fourth slots.
At fourth, the Lakers have an 82.8% chance of keeping a top-five pick, otherwise it will go to the Sixers, via the Phoenix Suns for Steve Nash.