Below are five things to take from the Lakers’ 116-103 victory Tuesday over the Clippers at Staples Center:
1. The Lakers’ bench mob takes over. No longer do the Lakers have to worry about blown leads and play a tight rotation. Now they have a reserve unit that can seemingly do everything. Need solid play-making? Give that to Jordan Farmar (16 points). Need some timely three-point shooting. Farmar, Jodie Meeks and Xavier Henry will provide that with a combined 5 of 12 clip. Need a player capable of shredding the Clippers’ defense by driving to the basket? Henry has that covered, posting 22 points on 8 of 13 shooting mostly on attacking the rim. Need a post presence based on mid-range jumpers? Chris Kaman has you covered with 10 points on a 5 of 10 clip. Need some rebounding? Kaman and Jordan Hill will gladly provide the hustle plays and grab a combined 16 boards.
Add it all up, and this is the main reason why the Lakers upset the Clippers. They constantly provided energy. They gave the starters plenty of rest. And it gave the Lakers some tangible signs that they actually could be a competitive team this season.
2. The Lakers defense came in spurts. Shawne Williams indicated that Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni spends 70 percent of his practices going over defense, a surprising revelation considering D’Antoni’s reputation as having a score-first, defend-later mindset. But that balance might need to increase even more. The Lakers showed more effort in staying organized on defense and on sprinting back in transition. But the Clippers kept it close, mostly notably in the third quarter by opening the second half with eight unanswered points.
3. The starters rested plenty. So much talk for resting Steve Nash on back-to-backs. He had a quiet night with three points and five assists. But the fact he only played 21 minutes may mean he could play Wednesday against Golden State. Meanwhile, both Pau Gasol (24 minutes) and Nick Young (23 points) iced the bags early.
4. Pau Gasol looked in mid-season form. With a fresh set of knees and a fresh outlook on his enhanced role, Gasol didn’t disappoint with the added responsibility. His 15 points, 13 rebounds and four assists put him in near triple-double watch. Gasol shot only 5 of 12 from the field, but he looked aggressive both in the post and on the perimeter. His unselfishness also ensured the Lakers’ ball movement stayed strong.
5. The Lakers and Clippers were chippy. Once Shawne Williams drove into the lane, Clippers forward Matt Barnes gave him a hard foul. Same thing happened when DeAndre Jordan put a body on Young as he drove into the lane. Both Jordan and Barnes were given flagrant foul type 1’s. Both incidents prompted the Lakers to intervene so the situation wouldn’t escalate. Both incidents show that no matter what both teams say, a L.A. rivalry has definitely brewed.
Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org