LOS ANGELES - The Los Angeles Lakers entered Sunday night’s latest "Battle of LA" against the Clippers hungry for a win and made it clear despite their struggles, they refused to lose against their hallway rivals.
The Clippers entered the game on a five-game winning streak, having won 14 of their last 16 games, masterfully coached by Ty Lue, who was just awarded the league’s Coach of the Year for December.
Meanwhile, going into the game, things weren’t so sunny in Laker Nation, having gone 2-9 since Dec. 15 and the job security of head coach Darvin Ham remaining questionable.
Following Friday night’s loss against Memphis, LeBron James told reporters: "We just suck right now."
LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers drives to the basket against Amir Coffey #7 of the Los Angeles Clippers in the second quarter at Crypto.com Arena on January 07, 2024 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images) (Getty Images)
Ham still managed to keep his positive demeanor during Sunday's pre-game press conference and shared that he's received support from other coaches across the league in private conversations. Lue even said he had been planning to reach out to Ham and everyone quick to blame Ham for the Lakers’ woes was "unfair."
With the exception of Paul George, no one shot particularly well in the first quarter, with both teams off to a painfully slow start. With just under 30 seconds left in the quarter, Norman Powell gave the Clippers some much-needed energy with a powerful dunk that silenced the sea of purple and gold. The quarter ended with the Clippers up 24-19.
In the first half, the Lakers turned the ball over 10 times, but the Clippers only managed to score a single point in those plays.
The red-hot Clippers turned ice-cold in the third quarter as their atrocious shooting continued. Kawhi Leonard had a field goal percentage of 35.3, with James Harden nowhere to be found with his field goal percentage at 30.8. Meanwhile, the Lakers found their pulse and played with more aggression — ending the quarter up 81-77.
It was a battle in the fourth quarter, and it was Taurean Prince going deep late in the fourth quarter that helped seal the Lakers' win. LeBron James and Anthony Davis remained consistent and ended the game with 25 and 22 points, respectively.
The Lakers snapped their four-game losing streak and defeated the Clippers 106-103.
"Everyone still continued to encourage one another…we stayed resilient through and through," Ham told reporters following the game.
Up next, the Clippers play their sixth back-to-back and face the Phoenix Suns Monday night, while the Lakers have a home matchup against Toronto on Tuesday.