Tomorrow’s notebook tonight. …
The Lakers led the Clippers by 11 points in the second quarter of their exhibition game tonight at Staples Center, but lost it all in the third. The Clippers led the Lakers by 13 points in the fourth, but wouldn’t let it all get away.
Blake Griffin scored 10 of his team-leading 30 points in the final period, leading the Clippers to a 108-103 victory over the Lakers in front of a boisterous sellout crowd of 19,060 in the final tuneup for both teams.
The regular season begins Sunday, with the Lakers playing host to the Chicago Bulls and the Clippers visiting Oakland to face the Golden State Warriors. After two exhibitions, it looked like the Clippers are a little more ready than the Lakers.
Mo Williams and Caron Butler added 16 points apiece for the Clippers, and DeAndre Jordan scored 14 points. Newly acquired guards Chauncey Billups and Chris Paul scored eight and seven. Paul also had 10 assists in a little less than 34 minutes.
Andrew Bynum scored 26 points on 11-for-15 shooting and grabbed 11 rebounds in 31 minutes for the Lakers. Pau Gasol had 13 points, nine rebounds and five assists in 30 minutes and Metta World Peace scored 10 points on 4-for-13 shooting.
Kobe Bryant didn’t play because of a torn wrist ligament. Derek Fisher did play after sitting out Monday’s game and the Lakers’ scrimmage Friday at USC because his conditioning was lacking. Fisher had seven points and eight assists in 24 minutes.
Kapono steps in
Lacking a legitimate 3-point threat for the better part of last season, the Lakers signed free agent Jason Kapono before training camp started. Lacking a true backup for Bryant, they turned to Kapono as a replacement tonight.
“It’s a good opportunity,” Kapono said before the game.
It might have been the understatement of the night.
Bryant’s value to the Lakers cannot be underestimated.
Kapono’s value to them is still to be determined.
“I don’t think about what it means to start or anything like that,” Kapono said. “I’m just glad I’m here and have a chance to play and try to use my skill set and help this team win. My goal is to blend my talents in here.”
Shooting from the perimeter is Kapono’s best skill. After all, he begins the 2011-12 season with the sixth-highest shooting percentage from 3-point range in league history, a scalding 43.7 percent. He won the 3-point shooting contest in 2007 and ’08.
Shannon Brown served as Bryant’s backup the last two-plus seasons, but he signed with the Phoenix Suns as a free agent and the Lakers had to find a replacement. Brown made only 34.9 percent of his 3-pointers last season, so an upgrade was in order.
Kapono won’t deliver the kind of highlight reel-caliber dunks that Brown did, but the Lakers aren’t asking for a high-wire act. The Lakers want 3-pointers and baskets from the perimeter from him, and maybe some solid play while Bryant nurses his injury.
Kapono was scoreless in 12 minutes Wednesday.
Coach Mike Brown gave second-year forward Devin Ebanks a start Wednesday while he continues his search for a starting small forward. Brown wants World Peace to move to the second unit in order to strengthen the bench.
Matt Barnes is likely to be the starter in the Lakers’ regular-season opener Sunday against the Chicago Bulls, with World Peace and Ebanks serving as his backups. It’s one spot in the starting lineup that could be in flux as the season progresses.
Ebanks had eight points on 4-for-6 shooting in the first quarter Wednesday, but then didn’t score the rest of the way, playing 13 minutes total. Barnes started in the second half and scored three points in 11 minutes.