The (5-24) Los Angeles Lakers host the (16-13) Los Angeles Clippers at the Staples Center in the last of five Christmas Day NBA games. In the last five days the OKC Thunder went 3-0 against Los Angeles beating the Clippers and Lakers, at home and on the road. The purple and gold man handled by OKC 120-85 in their previous game, beaten thoroughly for the second time in a week. The Lakers hung around and kept the game close with OKC in the first half until the Thunder hit another gear in the second half and ran the purple and gold off their own court. The numbers you need to know; 76, 54, 61, 27, 23 and 17.
The Lakers allowed the Thunder to shoot 54-percent from the field in addition to scoring 76-points in the paint (16 more than the 50 surrendered five days ago). Furthermore, the purple and gold were out-rebounded 61 – 35 (five more than the 56 given up five days ago), gave up 27 fast break points and 23 assists. Equally important, the Lakers gave up 100+ points for the 17th time in their last 18 games. Just as sure as a 14 mile drive west on the 10 freeway in L.A. will place you at the Santa Monica Pier, the Los Angeles Lakers are not ready to face a Western Conference playoff team. The Los Angeles Clippers rank ninth in the NBA in scoring (102.4 points per game), 23rd in rebounding (42.6 rebounds per game), ninth in assists (22.8 assists per game) and 17th defensively (allowing 101.2 points per game).
The Lakers lead the all-time series 98-40. To begin with; specifically from 1984-2010, when the Lakers regularly competed for championships and the Clippers were the laughingstock of the NBA both parties refused to call the Lakers vs. Clippers matchup a rivalry. That narrative has changed the reality is that the hallway series really has not been much of a series in a while, on the contrary, just seeing the Lakers on the schedule should put the tussling L.A. Clippers in a festive mood. As a matter of fact the Clippers have won seven straight games over the Lakers by an average of 24.6 points. Clippers forward Blake Griffin has averaged 26.7 points per game on 61.3-percent shooting from the field. This meeting will be Kobe Bryant’s 16th and final December 25th showcase game; the ‘black mamba’ has averaged 27.4 points in 14 starts on Christmas Day, although the Lakers are 5-9 in those games.
According to www.NBA.com/stats The Lakers are the only team in the NBA to rank in the bottom five defensive efficiency each of the last three seasons. In the same fashion, this is also the fifth straight season the Lakers Head Coach Byron Scott has coached a bottom-five defense. The Lakers rank 20th or worse in all of the defensive “four factors” opponent shooting, defensive rebounding, opponent turnover rate and opponent free throw rate. http://stats.nba.com/league/team/#!/fourfactors/?Season=2015-16&SeasonType=Regular%20Season&sort=OPP_EFG_PCT&dir=-1 The most interesting statistical matchup in this game; the Clippers points in the paint vs. the Lakers 30th ranked defense. The Lakers have surrendered 50+ points in the paint in several games this year, but in contrast, the Clippers for the second straight year have led the league in percentage of shots that come from outside the paint. In conclusion, for the Lakers to avoid the Clippers extending their streak against them to eight games their energy, effort, aggressiveness and rancid team defense needs to drastically improve immediately.
Lakers: L. Williams, J. Clarkson, K. Bryant, L. Nance, R. Hibbert
Clippers: C. Paul, J. J. Reddick, L. Mbah-A Moute, B. Griffin, D. Jordan
Tip-off: 7:30 PM PST
• Los Angeles: ESPN, TWC Sportsnet (Bill MacDonald & Stu Lantz)
• Los Angeles: ESPN, Fox Sports West & Prime Ticket (Ralph Lawler & Mike Smith)
• Los Angeles: 710 ESPN (John Ireland & Mychal Thompson)
• Los Angeles: KFWB (Ralph Lawler & Mike Smith)
• Kobe Bryant (Soar Shoulder) Probable
• Julius Randle (Soar Left Ankle) Questionable
• Paul Pierce (Back) Probable
• Austin Rivers (Ankle) Day-to-Day