The Los Angeles Lakers hadn’t beaten the Clippers since October 2013, when D’Angelo Russell was a senior in high school. While that feels significant to the fans, the players appeared generally calm about it.
All five starters for the Lakers had double-digit scoring numbers during the victory. But the longest-tenured player on the Lakers is Nick Young, who was signed as a free agent in July 2013.
Luol Deng had 13 points, 12 rebounds, 2 blocks and 2 steals. With two minutes left in the first quarter, fans were chanting “M-V-P! M-V-P!” while he was at the free throw line. After his two blocks, you could hear the venue scream with excitement to praise his hustle — which spoke to the general Lakers mood in the building.
Russell scored 14 points with 5 rebounds and 4 assists. But Russell, only in his second year in the NBA, wasn’t overly excited about which team his team beat.
“It feels good,” said Russell, to a group of reporters. “I don’t really know the history on it. But it feels good to get a win in general.”
With 24 minutes of action off the bench, Lou Williams had 14 points with 3 rebounds as well as an assist, a block and a steal.
“When you play the Clippers at home, it’s just a little different atmosphere. It’s a little weird at times,” Williams told The Big Lead. “A win is a win. I haven’t been a Laker long enough to really indulge in the rivalry, so it’s just cool.”
The Lakers were 1-12 during December games before their victory over the Clippers. But when asked about what the crosstown victory meant for Los Angeles, the coach didn’t seem overly enthusiastic.
Walton said in the postgame press conference that the win was needed to help stop the bleeding. Even though it’s just one in the course of a long regular season, he added it was nice to get the win back home after a tough couple weeks.
Much like Russell and Williams, Walton generally downplayed the rivalry between the two teams share a home venue of the Staples Center.
“Obviously, where we’re at right now and where the Clippers are at right now are two different places. They’re one of the few teams in this league that are competing for an NBA championship right now,” responded Walton, to our question in the postgame press conference.
“It always is nice to beat the other team in your hometown. But I’m not, at least from my seat, looking at it from those regards.”
Fans seemed to have the opposite mood during the game. When Young hit a buzzer-beater to end the first quarter, the crowd erupted with emotion and it earned a huge reaction from Staples Center.
The Lakers had lost eleven in a row against the Clippers — which was tied for 3rd-longest winning streak for a single opponent against the Clippers.
While Lakers faithful shouted back at famous fan “Clipper Darrell” to be quiet during the game, there’s no public animosity between the team on the personnel side.
“They’re fun to watch. I love watching young guys grow — and you can see the growth,” said Clippers coach Doc Rivers.