Clippers coach Tyronn Lue stood in front of his bench and yelled loud enough for his words to carry over the piercing bass line and artificial crowd noise that was the soundtrack to the latest battle between Los Angeles’ professional basketball teams.
“Get moving,” Lue said.
The Lakers were zipping the ball around the perimeter, probing for a place to attack, with Clippers defenders scrambling from one spot to the next while the shot clock peeled off one second at a time.
As the ball found its way to Dennis Schroder directly in front of the Clippers’ bench, the team’s coaches and reserves, including an injured Patrick Beverley, howled as the Lakers point guard heaved a shot from the corner.
It missed — most of the Lakers’ shots these days do — and Lue pounded his hands together, another stop for his team, a contender playing like one.
The Clippers dominated the Lakers on Sunday, beating them 104-86 after forcing their Staples Center roommates to shoot 40% from the field and 30.4% from three-point range. The 86 points were the Lakers’ season low.
Marcus Morris led the Clippers with 22 points. Montrezl Harrell, who received a welcome-back tribute in the first quarter of the Clippers home game, scored 19 to lead the Lakers.
Harrell’s Lakers, they’re moving too, sliding down the Western Conference standings as they head East for a stretch of games in which any victory would be defying what the smart money would tell you. They’ll play their next five games on the road, starting with a chance to steal a win in Tampa Bay against the NBA’s Canadian snowbird Toronto Raptors.
It’s taking near perfection and help from the schedule for the Lakers to win — their last three victories have been against Sacramento, Orlando and Cleveland. And the schedule is about to turn a lot tougher.
The Lakers play at Miami, Brooklyn, New York and Charlotte before hosting Boston and two with Utah. Then it’s two with Dallas — the next 10 games looking daunting without much help on the horizon.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.