New role fits Jordan Clarkson
LOS ANGELES—It was one of those bittersweet outings for Jordan Clarkson.
Handed the keys to the offense after a spate of injuries hit a hard-luck Los Angeles Lakers lineup against the reigning champion Golden State Warriors, the Filipino-American guard got his offense going early and looked more comfortable with his role as the top playmaker of one of the NBA’s most storied franchises.
But the Warriors are in the midst of a magical season, almost proving unstoppable especially when they are in the groove much like Tuesday night when they handed the Lakers a 109-88 beat down before a sellout crowd at Staples Center.
Although Clarkson held his own in his matchup with reigning Most Valuable Play Stephen Curry, he could do little to stop the Warriors from pulling away in the second half en route to the best 35-game start in NBA history.
By improving to 33-2 record, the Warriors posted an even better start than the Chicago Bulls who went on to finish with a 72-10 in the 1995-1996 season. The Lakers fell to 8-28.
Clarkson, who has been tipped to lead Gilas Pilipinas in the Olympic wildcard qualifying tournament late this year, continued to find a silver lining in what has been a season littered with heartbreak.
“I think we did alright,” said Clarkson, who finished with a team-high 23 points and five rebounds in 28 minutes.
“In the first three quarters, we were in there and then we didn’t make shots and guys started thinking a little bit too much. But I think as a team we grew a little bit but we’re still looking at stuff we need to improve on.”
Clarkson spent early in the game guarding Curry, but also found his scoring touch early with Kobe Bryant sidelined for the third straight game due to injury.
The Gilas Pilipinas prospect fed rookie Larry Nance Jr. for an alley hoop dunk early in what turned out to be the Lakers’ best play of the night, before hitting a buzzer-beating triple to end the first half.
The loss snapped the Lakers’ three-game winning streak but Clarkson’s play has been one of the few bright spots in a season that will be remembered as Bryant’s last in a checkered 20-year career.
“He’s been improving every day,” said Lakers veteran Metta World Peace.
Nance said Clarkson’s presence in the starting lineup “inspires” his own game, noting the guard’s rise from an obscure rookie last season to one of the team’s top players.
“I try to compete out there every time we step on the court and I try to get comfortable,” said Clarkson. “But that’s a good little compliment from Larry.”
Bulls extend win streak
Meanwhile, Jimmy Butler scored 32 points as the Chicago Bulls stretched its winning streak to a season-high five games with a 117-106 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks.
The Bulls opened the first quarter on a 10-0 run and never trailed, despite the Bucks pulling to within one point twice in the game in front of a crowd of 21,600 at the United Center arena. With a report from AFP
OTHER RESULTS: NY Knicks, 107 Atlanta 101; Dallas 117, Sacramento 116 (OT)
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.