Kobe Bryant temporarily put an end to the brewing Lakers-Clippers rivalry as he led his "visiting" Los Angeles Lakers to a thrilling 113-108 victory over their in-city rivals, the Los Angeles Clippers, Wednesday night at the storied Staples Center.
Andrew Bynum, who did not play during the Lakers' home win against the New Jersey Nets on Tuesday, top scored for the Lakers with 36 points on 13 of 20 FG shooting. Bryant added 31 points, five rebounds and six assists including a game-clinching 22-foot jumper with just 24.5 seconds left in the game clock.
The Clippers were led by former Laker Caron Butler's 28 points, 23 of which were scored during the first half. Point guard Chris Paul added 22 points and dished out 16 assists for the Clippers.
The Lakers started the game on a high note with Bryant and Bynum scoring 16 and 11 points respectively in the first quarter, giving the Lakers a 34-29 lead after one. The Lakers extended their lead to double digits during the early minutes of the second quarter but the Clippers relentlessly fought back to stay within striking distance. Nevertheless, the excellent quarterbacking of trade deadline-acquisition Ramon Sessions helped the Lakers established a 63-55 halftime lead over their in-city rivals.
The Lakers had a +3 advantage on combined first half rebounds and assists over the Clippers and also shot the ball better during the first half – 56.2 percent to 43.8 percent. The Clippers, on the other hand, went to the line three more times than the Lakers and turned the ball just once during the game's first 24 minutes.
The Lakers again extended their lead to double digits to start the second half behind Bryant and Sessions aggressiveness but the Clippers unleashed a mini run to cut the lead to 73-58 with still seven minutes left in the third quarter. Bynum responded with a 17-foot jumper, a 3-point play and two free throws to put the Lakers in a more comfortable margin.
Butler kept the Clippers' hopes alive with a run of his own midway through the third but the Lakers finished the quarter in style with Bryant's all-around game and Bynum's inside dominance.
The Clippers threatened with an 8-0 run to start the fourth, cutting the lead to just three points, 92-89 at the 10:02 mark. The Lakers retaliated with easy baskets from Bynum and Metta World Peace.
Eric Bledsoe converted on a three-pointer midway through the fourth to cut the Lakers lead to just two points while Paul's running jumper at the 4:08 mark tied the game at 102. The Clippers took a 104-103 lead with less than four minutes left courtesy of DeAndre Jordan's 3-foot hook shot.
Bryant answered back with a 17-foot jumper along the right baseline to grab the lead. Back and forth action ensued as the two teams traded baskets after another but at the end, the Lakers' championship poise proved to be the big difference as Bryant drained another clutch basket a day after rattling in, out and in a game-clinching three-pointer during yesterday's game against the Nets.
Clippers star Blake Griffin was limited to just 15 points while Randy Foye finished with just 11 points on an awful 1 of 6 clip from beyond the arc, following their win against the defending champion Dallas Mavericks wherein he shot eight three-pointers.
Sessions and Lakers' Spanish forward Pau Gasol combined for 28 points. Four players scored in double digits for the Lakers while the Clippers featured a more balance scoring attack with six players scoring 11 points or more.
With the win the Lakers cut the Clippers' winning streak at six and extended their own at four.