LOS ANGELES -- The Clippers taking over as Los Angeles' premier NBA team seemed like a foregone conclusion. Only somebody forgot to tell the Lakers. On opening night, at least, the City of Angels remained decidedly purple and gold, as the Kobe Bryant-less Lakers used a rebuilt bench, the injection of young legs and newfound chemistry to earn a 116-103 victory over the Clippers, their Staples Center co-tenants. The Lakers pulled away in a dominating fourth quarter, outscoring the Clippers 41-28 behind Jordan Farmar, Xavier Henry, Wesley Johnson and Jordan Hill. Henry scored a career-high 22 points. Farmar added 16 points, and Pau Gasol had 15 points and 13 rebounds as the Lakers bounced back after trailing 79-75 at the beginning of the final period. The Lakers' bench scored 76 points -- including the final 48 -- with five players finishing in double figures. In contrast, the Lakers' starters totaled just 40 points, and the Clippers' bench had 34 points. "We have a lot of guys. If somebody played a lot of minutes today, they might not play as many tomorrow," Henry said. "We have guys who can pick them up. For 82 games, us being so deep helps a lot." Blake Griffin led four Clippers starters in double figures with 19 points. Clippers guard Chris Paul managed just 15 points on 5-of-13 shooting, and DeAndre Jordan added 17 points and 11 rebounds. However, the Clippers' reserves were badly outplayed by their Lakers counterparts, especially in the decisive fourth quarter. "That's disappointing, but it shows we have room for growth obviously," said reserve Jamal Crawford, who had 15 points. "You tip your hat to them. They played a solid game, but for us, it showed we have room for growth and work to do." New Clippers coach Doc Rivers said, "I thought this was going to be a brutally tough game. I kept saying it all week. That team heard for four or five months how good we are. I told our guys tonight we're fighting human nature. That team is coming after you with everything they have. I don't know if you can match that, and at the end of the day we did not." The Lakers did just that. "Our energy was great. Our attitude was excellent," Gasol said. "We played together and hustled as a team. It all paid off." Henry played a pivotal role, scoring 10 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter. Another key contributor was Farmar, who spent the first four years of his NBA career with the Lakers -- winning two NBA titles -- before leaving as a free agent to seek a starting position. That never materialized with the then-New Jersey Nets, leading Farmar overseas. He returned to the Lakers this summer to back up Steve Nash, although with Nash showing his age and in constant need of rest, Farmar figures to get plenty of chances to start. With Nash struggling, Farmar played all of the fourth quarter, scoring nine points of his 16 points and handing out three assists. "It felt good to be back home, back in this building," Farmar said. "If felt comfortable to me." And for one night, at least, if felt comfortable for the Lakers. "I think it's a great indicator of where we are and how much we want to have a great year," Gasol said. "So we were able to do it tonight against a really good team. It's just one game and it's the beginning, but like I said, it's a good indicator." NOTES: It took all of training camp and preseason, but the Clippers finally had all their key rotation players intact at the same time Tuesday for the opener. The final four pieces to that puzzle were SG J.J. Redick (bruised left quad), backup PG Darren Collison (bruised left kneecap), rookie G Reggie Bullock (injured right knee) and SF Matt Barnes, who missed a significant amount of camp with a sore left calf. All four played against the Lakers, with Redick in the starting lineup. He scored 13 points. ... In addition to dealing with the knee injury, Collison (nine points) was operating on a lack of sleep after his wife gave birth to a baby boy Monday night. ... As expected, Bryant did not dress as he continues to rehab from a left Achilles tendon injury he suffered late last season. Bryant scaled back activity late last week, and no timetable is in place for his return.
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