By Kevin R. Linares
The Los Angeles Lakers entered this season with a lot less expectations than they faced last season. Dwight Howard is in Houston, Metta World Peace is in New York and Kobe Bryant is still recovering from his injury. Many people were just hoping the Clippers would not embarrass the Lakers on opening night. A starting line-up that featured a player that did not play at all last season and an aching Steve Nash would be no match for stacked team in the Clippers.
When the final buzzer went off and you looked at the scoreboard it said 116-103, in favor of the Lakers. A line-up that did not have the big names (other than Gasol and Nash) some might have hoped it would but had plenty of young players wearing the purple and gold for the first time had Laker fans smiling and Doc Rivers frowning. The Lakers bench was a big factor in the game scoring a total of 76 points, the third highest in team history. New Laker Xavier Henry led the team in scoring and posted his career high with 22 points coming off the bench. The next player with the most points was Jordan Farmar with a total of 16 points adding six assists.
The team came into the game playing with fast pace but the Clippers were looking like they could control the game. Blake Griffin was a handful and with a smaller starting line-up the Lakers were having trouble getting rebounds and protecting the rim. The game stayed close the whole way and it seemed as if perhaps Chris Paul will just take over the game and the Clippers would walk away with the win. Pau Gasol, who finished the game with 15 points, seemed to be the only player in the starting line-up to have a good game going leading to Mike D’Antoni giving the bench players an opportunity they gladly took. All of the bench players that played scored, five of them finished the game in double digits.
Nick Young struggled offensively in the first half but found his rhythm as the game went on scoring 13 points. Wes Johnson, who is expected to play an important role off the bench this season did not have a big impact in the game only scoring 3 points but it did not matter because his teammates picked it up. Farmar showed he can take control of a game as he did a few times in the preseason having a few big plays.
The Lakers will take on the Golden State Warriors tomorrow in what will be a similar match up as the Clippers in terms of their roster and style of play. The purple and gold will look to continue with the same energy and aggressiveness they had today and beat another team that is expected to be in the top of the Western Conference standings.