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Clippers 105, Lakers 95

The SportsXchange

For years, Los Angeles has been a city with two professional basketball teams pointed in opposite directions. However, on Friday it appeared they swapped identities.

The Los Angeles Clippers appear to be the better team in the City of Angels and it doesn't really look close after they took the Los Angeles Lakers apart 105-95 at Staples Center.

Looking young and spry and in tune with each other -- against the unsure, chemistry-deprived Lakers -- the Clippers (2-0) were in control throughout behind a balanced attack in which five players scored in double figures and their deep bench outplayed their Lakers counterparts.

Chris Paul had 18 points and 15 assists to lead the way while Jamal Crawford added 21 points and Blake Griffin (15) and Caron Butler (14) also contributed.

Meanwhile, the Clippers bench scored 44 points to 16 for the Lakers.

Kobe Bryant had 40 points for the Lakers but only Dwight Howard (13) and Pau Gasol (10) reached double figures as the Lakers started the season 0-3 for the first time since 1978.

The Lakers played without injured point guard Steve Nash, who was sidelined with a lower leg contusion. But considering the Lakers lost their first two games in similar fashion with Nash in the lineup, it's doubtful even his presence would have made much of a difference at this point.

With Nash sidelined with a lower leg contusion, the Lakers started veteran Steve Blake with back-up duties going to Darius Morris.

It wasn't an ideal situation for a Lakers team still trying to find its way through the transition to a new offense and the addition of six players -- including Nash and Howard -- but with the schedule pressing on and the cross-town rival Clippers lying in wait, there was little time to feel sorry for themselves.

The Clippers are under no such distress and it showed early on as they jumped to a nine-point lead behind nine first-quarter points from Caron Butler and led 28-23 at the end of the period.

Bryant had 14 points in the quarter but no one had more than five and the bench was outscored 8-2.

Things improved for the Lakers in the second quarter -- especially after the Clippers took an 11-point lead. The Lakers began scrapping the Princeton offense in favor of more pick-and-roll action that began creating mismatches and clean looks at the basket.

In doing so the Lakers cut the lead to two points late in the quarter, although a buzzer-beating three by Butler gave the Clippers a 52-47 lead at intermission.

Butler had 14 points to lead the Clippers while Bryant finished the half with 14 points on 4 of 10 shooting. The Clippers bench outscored their Lakers counterparts 25-11, led by Crawford's nine points.

NOTE: Nash was injured in the second quarter of the Lakers loss in Portland on Wednesday. While he returned in the third quarter, he lasted just one minute before leaving the game for good. By Thursday he was being listed as doubtful against the Clippers, the decision to sit him coming prior to the game. ... The Lakers next play at home against Detroit on Sunday. Nash's status is expected to be still up in the air. ... .Lamar Odom officially returned to Staples Center for the first time against the Lakers as a member of the Clippers and was greeted with a mixture of boos and cheers. ... Former Lakers forward Matt Barnes also was making his first appearance as a member of the Clippers.
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