But the pace of the game ramped significantly in the fourth quarter. The Clippers took a 17-point lead thanks to ridiculous shotmaking, but Russell Westbrook led a 12-0 run to get L.A. within striking distance.
The Lakers eventually took a lead late in the game and both teams went back and forth with a tough shot after a tough shot. In the end, Reggie Jackson’s layup sealed the game. Anthony Davis’ floater at the buzzer went in and out.
Here is how the Lakers, now 25-28, graded individually after the loss:
Russell Westbrook: C-plus
If this grade is split based on quarters, then Russell Westbrook gets an F for the first three quarters. He ignited the comeback with tough shots around the mid-range area and even hit a crucial triple to cut the deficit to four. But the Lakers need more consistency from their $44 million man. He finished with 17 points on 7-of-18 shooting with a 1-of-5 clip from deep to go with six rebounds, four assists, one steal and a block in 36 minutes.
Avery Bradley made 2-of-3 shots from deep for six total points, but he ended with just 20 minutes of playing time. He was a team-worst minus-18 on the night because his defense was not up to standard against the Clippers’ lengthy guards and wings.
Malik Monk: A-minus
Malik Monk diced the Clippers’ interior defense all game. That opened lanes for multiple players, primarily Davis. Davis and Monk feasted in the two-man game all night, which led to Monk’s seven-assist night. Monk, who is on a minimum deal, added 21 points and seven rebounds to his name. He shot 8-of-19 overall and 3-of-8 from deep.
Stanley Johnson: C-minus
Stanley Johnson had two points, three rebounds, two steals and a block in 23 minutes. If he could draw defenders away from the paint more consistently, he’d get more minutes because his defense is extremely reliable. But his offensive limitations still creep up.
Anthony Davis: A
Anthony Davis’ missed shot at the buzzer will be the key talking point, but he fought hard all game. When the Lakers went down 17, Davis was the sole energizer on the court and capable of putting points on the board. He went for 30 points, 17 rebounds, two assists, two steals and two blocks in 38 minutes. He shot 12-of-24 overall and 6-of-7 from the charity stripe. The Lakers really need a healthy LeBron James to pair with this version of AD.
Austin Reaves: B-plus
Austin Reaves swished a triple and flew for a two-handed dunk in transition. His defense was shaky at first with Eric Bledsoe as his main matchup, but he became more effective guarding Luke Kennard, who doesn’t have Bledsoe’s athleticism. Reaves made a vital block on Kennard’s layup attempt late in the game during the comeback.
Talen Horton-Tucker: B-minus
Talen Horton-Tucker jumped to a fast start with his scoring. He had six of his nine points in the first quarter and hit 1-of-2 attempts from deep. He added two rebounds and two steals in 21 minutes. Not the best game from Horton-Tucker but definitely not the worst.
Trevor Ariza: B
Trevor Ariza, who has not logged any minutes in four of the last five games because of his drop in production, stepped up when Carmelo Anthony left early after pulling his hamstring. Ariza played 17 minutes in the second half, and though he was quiet for a while, he made some important plays during the comeback that helped his grade, including a 3-pointer. Ariza finished with a game-high plus-14 mark, and his length matched up well with the Clippers.
Dwight Howard: B
Dwight Howard had solid shifts in his minutes. He played in 10 and put up seven points, four rebounds, one assist and one steal. He helped limit Isaiah Hartenstein’s two-way impact when the Clippers center took control of the game at one point.
Kent Bazemore: N/A
Kent Bazemore played seven minutes in the first half, but it was a rollercoaster experience. He made a diving save to get the ball to Carmelo for a 3-pointer, but his shots around the rim are still not reliable. He didn’t return to the game after his initial stint, so he doesn’t get a grade. Have to wonder if the Lakers are playing him to increase his trade value.