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Lakers win Christmas evening matchup with the Clippers

Lakers guard Nick Young nailed the three-pointer, then trotted down the court as he does after all of them, with his tongue hanging out as his hands signaled with three fingers to show what he’d just contributed.

Like that, the Lakers took a 110-99 lead over the Clippers. Young, a Los Angeles native, jogged back down the court and high-fived two purple-clad fans.

The Lakers beat the shorthanded Clippers 111-102 in a Lakers home game at Staples Center during the NBA’s Christmas Day finale. Sunday’s win broke an 11-game losing streak by the Lakers — the longest losing streak they’ve had to any team since the franchise moved to Los Angeles.

“I got all that 11,” said Young, who is the only member of this Lakers team who was a Laker the last time they beat the Clippers. “It feels good to just go out there and play as a team, finally win, do it on Christmas. It was fun.”

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The Lakers improved to 12-22, and notched their second win in the month of December. The Clippers fell to 22-10, and have lost eight of their last 16 games.

Seven Lakers scored in double figures — every starter and reserves Brandon Ingram and Lou Williams. Starting center Timofey Mozgov and Young led the Lakers with 19 points each. It was the first time since April 12, 2015, that all five Lakers starter scored in double figures.

Clippers guards J.J. Redick and Jamal Crawford each scored 22 points, a game high. They were two of three Clippers to reach double figures. Redick missed the fourth quarter because of a sore left hamstring and Clippers starters Chris Paul and Black Griffin missed the game with injuries.

The Clippers started fast Sunday, opening up an 11-point lead before the Lakers began to fight their way back in. The Lakers stayed close, though, trailing by only four when the first quarter ended by virtue of a floater by Lakers forward Thomas Robinson as the quarter expired.

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At halftime the Clippers led 58-55.

In the third quarter, the game turned.

“In the third quarter, I thought we took our jobs very seriously,” Walton said.

The Lakers scored the third quarter’s first eight points, holding the Clippers scoreless for the period’s first four games. They broke off a 15-2 run to open the period. Though the Clippers threatened even after that, they never reclaimed the lead. That third quarter caused an 18-point swing in the game. In it, the Lakers outscored the Clippers 34-16, the Clippers made only six of 18 shots and five Clippers turnovers resulted in 11 Lakers points.

The Lakers’ largest lead of the game was 18 points. 

Being home meant something to the young Lakers, who had just returned from a 12-day, seven-game trip. Not that coming home was easy. 

Historically, the series is lopsided in favor of the Lakers, but the Clippers entered the game with the third-best record in the Western Conference, and had lately dominated the Lakers.

A reminder of that appeared on TV as Lakers guard Lou Williams watched the early NBA games Sunday morning with his family. In his kitchen surrounded by his kids, cousins, all the family that visited for the holidays, Williams saw the ticker note that the Lakers had lost 12 of their last 13 games against the Clippers. 

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“Something always happens the other way when “SportsCenter” puts something right there,” Williams said. “Tonight it happened again.” 

The Lakers regained a feeling they hadn’t had in a long time. 

“I think it was needed,” Walton said. “It was. It’s one win. We all know that’s not that big of a deal in the long NBA season, but for us, it felt nice to get this one back home. Been a tough couple weeks. We really had to come together to win that game tonight.”

The Lakers were playing their first home game in exactly two weeks, having returned Saturday from their longest trip of the season. They went 1-6 on the road, were never fully healthy, and blew 19-point leads in two losses. 

The Clippers meanwhile, have only 10 losses this season, but eight of them have come in the last 16 games. Injuries have also plagued them. Neither star forward Blake Griffin nor point guard Chris Paul played Sunday. 

The Clippers started fast Sunday, opening up a double-digit lead. The Lakers stayed close, though, trailing by only four when the first quarter ended and by three at halftime. Then the Lakers held the Clippers scoreless for four minutes and outscored them 34-16 in the third quarter.

From there, they regained a feeling they hadn’t had in a long time. 

“I think it was needed,” Walton said. “It’s one win. We all know that’s not that big of a deal in the long NBA season, but for us, it felt nice to get this one back home. Been a tough couple weeks. We really had to come together to win that game tonight.”

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tania.ganguli@latimes.com

Follow Tania Ganguli on Twitter @taniaganguli


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