Xavier Henry finished with 22 points, and Jordan Farmar added 16 points, as the Los Angeles Lakers stomped past the Los Angeles Clippers 116-103 on Opening night at Staples Center.
No banners would be covered or overshadowed on this night, however the Lakers bench overshadowed up the Clippers bench 76-34.
“It’s not a bad thing to be the underdog sometimes,” said Jodie Meeks. “No expectations. We go out there and play hard. What’s the worst that can happen?”
The Clippers opened up well with JJ Redick who scored the team’s first seven points with sharp shooting.
DeAndre Jordan looked most impressive on both ends of the floor and had more focus about his game than he did last season.
The Clippers were able to emerge to a tight 57-55 halftime lead after a very competitive up and down style game in the first half. Clippers shot an impressive 59% from the field.
The Clippers opened up the third quarter with a swift 8-0 run before a furious Mike D’Antoni called timeout.
The Lakers trailed 79-75 at the end of the third quarter, however jumped out to a 86-83 lead in the fourth quarter behind Jodie Meeks three point play.
The Lakers completed an outstanding 41 point fourth quarter was surprising as it was impressive by players who’s names were still being learned by many fans and media.
“We’re a deep team, and people don’t think we’re that good,” Henry said. “That always fuels us. People are saying we’re going to finish 12th or whatever, but we have a great group of guys who go out there and play hard. We’re young. We’re athletic.”
Pau Gasol finished with 15 points and Jordan Hill added 12 points and 8 rebounds in the victory.
Even though the Lakers are currently going through a rebuilding phase with the loss of Dwight Howard and an injured Kobe Bryant, they showed no effects of such last night.
The Clippers who are the projected favorite in the Western Conference by many, still have miles to go before they sleep, especially with the second unit.
“We were not ready tonight,” said Rivers. “The Lakers have heard for probably the last two months how good the Clippers were going to be … so you knew that they were going to play like this was the world championship — with that type of energy. And I thought we never matched it. Everything they did was harder than us and more physical than us. They destroyed us on the glass and destroyed us in turnovers. It was really a good lesson for us tonight.”
Blake Griffin finished with 19 points, Chris Paul added 19 points and 11 assist and DeAndre Jordan also finished with 17 points and 11 rebounds.
“It seemed like it just happened so fast,” Paul said of the Lakers fourth quarter run. “Those guys executed their game plan, and when you’re missing somebody like Kobe, you feed off that energy.”
These two teams will face each other three more times season, and it’s safe to say that history will not repeat itself, like season when the Clippers sweep the Lakers four times.
Clippers host their first home game of the season against the Golden State Warriors on Thursday. The Lakers travel up to face Golden State on Wednesday night.