The Lakers won so easily Friday night against the Clippers, Kobe Bryant had time to hand-buff Lamar Odom's head to a fine polish.
Back in the salad days of the 2009-10 season, when the biggest problems for the Lakers came from beating teams by 16 instead of 26, the purple and gold routinely came out of the locker room after halftime and blew the proverbial doors off the opposition, crushing spirits and giving fans ample time to complain about the end of the bench. Those days weren't so long ago to call Friday's 126-86 win over the Clippers at Staples "Turn Back the Clock Night," but insofar as something happening six or so weeks ago can be viewed with nostalgia, the evening's events must have felt positively Rockwellian for the Staples crowd.
The Lakers generally controlled the first half against a Chris Kaman-less Clippers squad, but the LAC used an 11-0 run to start the second to turn a 28-25 Lakers lead into an eight point advantage. The Lakers chipped away and finished the half up by three, but at the very least gave the red, white, and blue reason to believe they could turn tonight into Upset 2.0.
That ended coming out of the break.
After DeAndre Jordan split a pair of free throws at 11:50, the Lakers ripped off 12 unanswered. That was impressive enough, but on the heels of an impressive, balanced effort to beat the Mavericks Wednesday night in Dallas, the Lakers continued to spread the ball around, keeping everyone involved. Four Lakers scored in the run, starting with a hook in the lane from Pau Gasol, looking strong in his first game back after missing the last six with a strained left hamstring. From there, it was a triple from Ron Artest, a short J from Gasol, a hard dunk from Andrew Bynum, then a jumper from Kobe (with a free throw from 24 mixed in as well). More impressive perhaps were the four assists on the five scores from the floor.
Meanwhile, the Lakers held the Clippers without a field goal for over three minutes.
In short, everything seemed completely normal. By the end of the frame, the Lakers had outscored Mike Dunleavy's crew 36-17 and led by 22, with happy numbers dotting the box score like a Seurat. Four starters in double figures, including 18 points from Bynum on 7-11 shooting, 23 from Bryant, and 20 from Gasol (4-10 from the floor, 12-12 from the stripe). The Lakers moved the ball well, registering 22 assists on 29 makes. On the other end, they defended the paint, blocking seven shots before the start of the final quarter.
From there, it was garbage time, something fans haven't seen much of lately. Quality garbage, too, with LAL's reserves pushing the final margin of victory to 40.
Leaving Lakers fans with absolutely nothing to complain about. They'll take it. After all, sometimes change is good.
More analysis and postgame video to come...