The Los Angeles Clippers spent the last few seasons dominating the series against their arena-sharing rivals the Los Angeles Lakers, and it looks like they might be finding their stride. The Clippers will try to knock off their rivals and earn a third consecutive win when they serve as the home team against the Lakers on Monday.
The Clippers suffered through a nine-game slide before finishing off a five-game road trip with wins at the Atlanta Hawks and Sacramento Kings, and power forward Blake Griffin is stepping up his game. Griffin hit the go-ahead jumper with 3.2 seconds left to cap a 33-point effort in Saturday’s win over the Kings, following up a triple-double Wednesday at the Hawks. The Lakers missed out on their own chance at a three-game winning streak with a 113-102 loss at Sacramento on Wednesday and were off the next four days, giving them time to work power forward Larry Nance Jr. back into shape in practice after he missed 11 games with a fractured hand. “It was good to have him back out there,” Lakers coach Luke Walton told reporters. “I think he’ll be good to go by Monday. ... If he’s good to go and cleared and ready, I don’t see any reason to not put him back in the starting lineup.”
TV: 10:30 p.m. ET, Spectrum SportsNet (Lakers), FS Prime Ticket (Clippers)
ABOUT THE LAKERS (8-11): Nance’s return could push rookie power forward Kyle Kuzma back into a reserve role despite his strong play this month. The 22-year-old Utah product is averaging 18.1 points and 7.5 rebounds in 11 games as a starter and 15 points and 4.8 boards in eight games as a reserve. Fellow rookie Lonzo Ball recorded at least a double-double in each of the last three games and went 4-of-8 from the floor in Wednesday’s loss at Sacramento, marking the second time in his brief career that he shot at least 50 percent from the field in a game.
ABOUT THE CLIPPERS (7-11): DeAndre Jordan’s contributions are subtler than Griffin but are no less impactful to the win column, and he capped off a 16-rebound effort on Saturday by using his length to alter a shot in the final second by Sacramento’s Buddy Hield. Jordan is averaging 13.9 rebounds to go with 10.2 points on 65.5 percent shooting while anchoring a defense that lost First Team All-NBA defender Patrick Beverley to season-ending knee surgery. Lou Williams is taking over the starting spot in the backcourt while doing his best at the head of the defense, and he collected four steals in Saturday’s triumph.
1. Lakers SG Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is 8-of-13 from 3-point range in the last two games.
2. Williams averaged 19 points and eight assists in the last two games.
3. The Clippers are winners of four straight and 15 of the last 16 in the series, including a 108-92 victory on Oct. 19.
PREDICTION: Clippers 102, Lakers 99