Clippers send Lakers to franchise-worst 62nd loss, 91-81

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Lakers fans cheered Kobe Bryant as if Wednesday represented the turning point in a late-May playoff series.

It was loud when he touched the ball in the post. It was even louder when he scored.

When he checked back into the game with a handful of minutes remaining? Earplug time.

But Bryant’s second-to-last home game would end like so many others this season.

He cooled after scoring 10 first-quarter points and the Lakers clinched the worst record of their 68-year existence with a 91-81 loss to the Clippers at Staples Center.

Bryant finished with 17 points on wobbly six-for-19 shooting. As if Lakers fans cared.

He received a standing ovation and acknowledged the now-standard chants of his first name when he left the game in the final minute.


“There’s one [home] game left,” Bryant said. “Kinda crazy.”

Beyond Bryant, the story lines were pretty slim for the Lakers (16-62), who officially couldn’t match last season’s nasty 21-61 campaign after losing to the Clippers an 11th consecutive time.

“Much younger, much more inexperience than we had last year,” Lakers Coach Byron Scott offered as reasons for the utter lack of success.

Julius Randle took a career-high 20 rebounds Wednesday but missed eight of 11 shots. D’Angelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson each scored 13 points with subpar accuracy.

Afterward, a conga line of Clippers players lined up to congratulate Bryant. Their coaching staff too, including Doc Rivers and assistants Lawrence Frank and Mike Woodson.

Rivers coached the Boston Celtics against the Lakers in the 2008 and 2010 NBA Finals. He and Bryant had their own moment after Wednesday’s game.


“He walked over and said, ‘Man, we had some amazing wars,’ and he’s right,” Rivers said. “It was pretty cool.”

Chris Paul was the last Clippers player to hug Bryant, who also posed for a picture with Paul’s young son near midcourt. Then Bryant walked off to cheers from an appreciative crowd that hadn’t sat since Bryant checked out.

Paul was surprised the Lakers didn’t get the ball to Bryant right before he left the game.

“We actually had a conversation with Doc about going back into the game and I told him, ‘It’s [almost] Kobe’s last one. I would love to go back in,’” Paul said. “We ended up not going back in, but that’s probably one of the things I’ll remember is he couldn’t get the ball.”

Meanwhile, the Clippers (50-28) are on to the playoffs next week.

Blake Griffin looked better in his third game back from a three-month absence, totaling 13 points, eight rebounds and three assists.

He still wasn’t entirely back to form but improved upon his previous two games — six points and four points.


“It’s just good to see the ball go in a couple of times and get to the moves you want to,” Griffin said.

DeAndre Jordan had 15 points, 11 rebounds and blocked the shot of a certain 37-year-old who pulled up for a second-quarter jumper.

“He’s embarrassed a lot of people so I don’t feel bad,” Jordan said of Bryant.

The Clippers dialed it down ahead of time by going without reserves Jamal Crawford (rest), Austin Rivers (sore ankle) and Wesley Johnson (plantar fasciitis). They were even thinner when reserve forward Jeff Green suffered a bruised right knee after a collision and left late in the third quarter.

No matter. After years and years of staggering losses against Bryant-led teams, the Clippers got the best of him one final time.

Twitter: @Mike_Bresnahan