3 things worth noting about the job the Lakers’ bench did in beating the Clippers (Video)

Dan Devine
October 30, 2013

With 12 minutes left in their Opening Night showdown for Staples Center supremacy, the Los Angeles Clippers led the Los Angeles Lakers by four points, 79-75. Doc Rivers' team hadn't looked great, but had done more than enough to balance it out — Blake Griffin had missed seven free throws but was 8 for 15 from the floor with seven boards, Chris Paul had missed six field goals but was showing a great floor game (11 assists, six rebounds, four steals in 28 minutes), DeAndre Jordan had looked mostly attentive defensively (if not necessarily on the bench), J.J. Redick looked smooth and comfortable hunting space and shots in the Clips' half-court sets, etc.

Some kinks to work out, to be sure, but they seemed capable of handling an undermanned, if amped up and competitive, Lakers side. And then, all hell broke loose.

Mike D'Antoni's team got some early momentum with a small-ball second unit that seemed intent on making the Clippers sing for their supper, and when the boys in blue heard their collective voice crack, the guys in purple and gold pounced. Twelve minutes later, the Lakers had earned a surprising and impressive 116-103 win over the defending Pacific Division champions. And they did it with Pau Gasol, Steve Nash and the rest of the starting five riding the pine. From Yahoo Sports NBA columnist Marc J. Spears:

"They played with an amazing amount of energy," Rivers said. "Mike did a great thing. He didn't bring his starters back in. It got to the point where I was saying, 'Please bring them back in.'"

You can certainly understand why, considering:

1. They outscored the Clippers — by themselves — 41-24 in the fourth quarter.

Read 'em and weep:

The five-man unit of Jordan Hill, Wesley Johnson, Xavier Henry, Jodie Meeks and Jordan Farmar shot a combined 15 for 23 from the floor (65.2 percent), went 6 for 8 from 3-point land, turned four Clipper turnovers into 10 points and scored 17 second-chance points in 12 minutes. Hill himself had five offensive rebounds in the frame, steadily outworking the likes of DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin for the ball; at one point, he dove for a loose ball on the deck in the paint like a lineman covering up a fumble to secure another Laker possession.

Hustle, extra passes, offensive boards leading to wide-open deep looks, athletes running in transition, enough defensive attentiveness to keep the offensive momentum going ... it was really fun to watch. Like, y'know, Mike D'Antoni's teams used to look, before "arguing with star athletes reluctant to play his preferred style" became a bigger part of his job description than "basketball coach."

In the fourth quarter, that group scored at an obscene average of 174.3 points per 100 possessions, according to NBA.com's stat tool, and it did so inexpensively, as laid out by SB Nation's Tom Ziller:

The Clips, on the other hand ...

Pretty nice bang for the Busses' bucks, there.

2. They nearly doubled up the Lakers' starters.

Henry — a 6-foot-6 shooting guard out of Kansas whom the Memphis Grizzlies chose with the No. 12 pick in the 2010 draft, whom they traded to the then-New Orleans Hornets in a three-team deal to import Marreese Speights, whom the Hornets made no attempt to bring back in free agency this summer and who's just been trying to hang on as a training-camp invitee in L.A. — scored a career-high 22 points on 8 for 13 shooting. He also did this, which was fun:

Farmar scored 16 points and dropped six dimes in his first game back in the States since March 2012, looking comfortable at the controls of D'Antoni's pick-and-roll-heavy offense, capable of blowing by defenders to get to the rim, and at least a step quicker off the bounce than Paul and backup Darren Collison. (Poor perimeter containment plus a lack of second-level deterrents on the interior lead to getting eaten up in the paint, which figures to be the Clips' primary problem, as their fans found out last night.)

Hill added 12 points, including two on a ludicrous banked-in elbow jumper. Meeks had 13, hitting not only half his 3-point tries, but also a Eurostep layup in transition, which is not exactly his strong suit. Former No. 4 overall pick Johnson ... well, he'd probably like to forget his 1 for 11 mark from the floor, but at least the one make was a 3. (He also played better than expected defense on Griffin in the post, which is something that Griffin might need to think long and hard about.)

Add in 10 points from big man Chris Kaman, who didn't play in the fourth but offered a little punch early, and the Lakers' bench combined for 76 points on 50 percent shooting from the floor and 52.9 percent shooting from long distance. By comparison, L.A.'s starters — Gasol, Nash, Nick Young, Shawne Williams and Steve Blake — scored 40 points, shooting 36.4 percent from the floor and 41.7 percent from deep.

If 76 sounds like a lot, it is; as it turns out ...

3. It's the most points scored by a Lakers' reserve unit in 25 years.

And poor Clippers — if only for one night — and an unexpectedly awesome Laker bench. Seventy-six second-unit points and a basically impossible level of offensive efficiency doesn't seem like something that Lakers fans should rely on, but they're well within their rights to enjoy getting it as an unexpected and incinerating surprise.

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Dan Devine is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at devine@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter!

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