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It’s a Low-Out for Clippers

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Wow, are the Lakers going to be hurt in the strength-of-schedule rankings after this one or what?

The Lakers did not have to exert their will against the Clippers on Tuesday night as much as simply show up and watch the Clippers spontaneously combust.

There weren’t statistics to review after the Lakers’ 95-68 victory before 18,719 at Staples Center, it was more like rubble.

Where you thought a team stood, there were only fragments.

Where there might have been a semblance of pride, there was a swift surrender.

The Lakers had little to do with it, other than grabbing all the rebounds, driving down the uncrowded lanes, and accepting the Clipper clanks with open arms and open shots.

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“I don’t know if we were star-struck or what,” said Clipper swingman Tyrone Nesby. “Nobody came to play. I hope everybody’s as embarrassed as I am.”

The centerpiece of this grandiose, gruesome tragic-comedy was the second quarter, when the Clippers made only one of their 18 shots and scored a total of three points (only one short of the NBA record low).

Adding in their final scoreless 3:50 of the first quarter, the Clippers came up with 15:50 of the silliest, most unbelievable basketball an NBA team can produce.

“It was ugly--really ugly,” Laker guard Ron Harper said. “Some nights the basketball ain’t going to fall. The ball didn’t fall for them tonight.”

That demonstration brought the Clippers’ halftime total to 19, which did set an NBA record for 24-minute scoring futility, congratulations all around.

“They came apart at the seams,” Laker Coach Phil Jackson said. “I thought our defense had something to do with it, and I also thought their players, [Lamar] Odom and [Maurice] Taylor, were both in foul trouble, and some of them not very conscious fouls.

“For a young team that’s as talented as they are, they can do a lot more. . . . I expected a competitive game tonight.”

That was not to be, as the Lakers extended what had been a 17-16 lead late in the first quarter to 49-19 at halftime.

The Lakers were not exactly touching basketball perfection in the game--they only shot 42.9% from the field and managed only 17 points in that cursed second quarter--but Shaquille O’Neal scored 21 points and grabbed 19 rebounds in 29 minutes and Kobe Bryant scored 18, and that was plenty.

The Clippers finished shooting 26 for 80, and the 32.5% was a Laker opponent all-time low.

“We didn’t want to give them any life,” Bryant said. “Absolutely none.”

The victory--the Lakers’ 10th consecutive over the Clippers--raised the Laker record to 18-5, best in the league, and dropped the Clippers to 5-17, their 10th loss in their last 11 games.

“We were trying to do stuff too fast,” said Taylor, who made one of seven shots and had only two points and two rebounds before fouling out. “We were rushing and trying to do too much and it really hurt us . . .

“Every aspect of the game in which you could play bad, we did.”

The 68 points tied the Clippers’ franchise low and also tied the Lakers’ opponent low.

Said Harper, a former Clipper: “I don’t feel sorry for anyone or any team. Our job is to go out there and play our game, and that is what we did.”

There were two teams competing against each other until the tail end of the first quarter, when suddenly the Clippers wandered away, and left the Lakers basically playing by themselves.

It was 17-16, with 3:50 left in the first. A relatively competitive game. Jump shots made on each side, rebounds, even two Tyrone Nesby three-pointers.

A basketball game, more or less.

Then the game ceased, and the embarrassment began. First, it was slow, the Lakers going on a methodical 15-0 run to end the first quarter with a 32-16 lead.

The Clippers finished the quarter missing their last six shots and committing four turnovers in that span.

But then it kept going, and going, and going, and stopped being about the Lakers at all and was only about a Clipper team that decided that it wasn’t really a team at all on this night.

In that just-history-missing second quarter, the Clippers made only one shot and missed 17. They committed seven turnovers, with zero assists.

In the final 15:50 of the half, the Clippers were one for for 24 from the field, with 13 turnovers and three points.

“Today, we played like we didn’t even know how to play basketball,” Taylor said. “I’ve gotten to the point where I should be apologizing for the way I played.”

Hear players’ postgame comments from Tuesday night’s Laker-Clipper game on The Times’ web site: https://sports.latimes.com.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

The Clippers’ performance Tuesday:

FIRST

Points16

Field goals: 6-20

3-pointers: 3-4

Free throws: 1-2

Turnovers: 7

*

SECOND

Points: 3

Field goals: 1-18

3-pointers: 0-5

Free throws: 1-2

Turnovers: 7

*

THIRD

Points: 17

Field goals: 7-20

3-pointers: 1-4

Free throws: 2-3

Turnovers: 3

*

FOURTH

Points: 32

Field goals: 12-22

3-pointers: 3-5

Free throws: 5-10

Turnovers: 1

LOWEST HALF

* 19: Clippers at Lakers (first half) Tuesday

* 20: New Orleans at Seattle (first half) Jan. 4, 1975

* 21: Miami at Atlanta (second half) Nov. 15, 1996

* 21: Indiana vs. San Antonio (second half) March 29, 1998

LOWEST QUARTER

* 2: Dallas at Lakers (third quarter) April 6, 1997

* 3: Clippers at Lakers (second quarter) Tuesday

* 4: Sacramento at Lakers (first quarter) Feb. 4, 1987

* 4: Buffalo vs. Milwaukee (third quarter) Oct. 21, 1972

*

RICE IS FOCUSED

He says trade talk won’t bother him. Anderson, Skinner sidelined by sprains.

Page 7


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