Effort at forefront as Clippers, Lakers head to break

Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin, right, tires to pass the ball while under pressure from Atlanta Hawks forward Paul Millsap during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2017, in Los Angeles. The Clippers won 99-84. (AP

The Clippers and Lakers took vastly different approaches to their final game before the NBA All-Star break — with effort present at the forefront of both.

The Lakers were handed a 36-point beatdown at the hands of the Phoenix Suns, the only team currently below them in the Western Conference standings. The performance oozed indifference and immaturity, which in a nutshell, sums up the team's shortcomings throughout a forgettable 2016-17 campaign. 

It became clear early on that the Lakers had checked out before the game even started, evidenced by a 32-10 run that Phoenix rattled off right out of the gates.

"Collectively tonight, they didn't feel like it," former Laker and current Spectrum SportsNet analyst Derek Fisher said following the game. "Tonight just wasn't a night were every guy, top to bottom, decided that going to the break we want to win this game."

The Clippers could not have found themselves further on the other end of the spectrum, delivering a convincing 99-84 victory over an Atlanta Hawks team that is fighting for home-court advantage in the playoffs. The win marked the fourth-straight for the Clippers, who head to the break with a half-game edge over the Utah Jazz for the No. 4 seed in the West.

While the strong showing as of late is a promising sign for the Clippers — especially defensively, where they have returned to early-season form with just 78 points allowed in their last two outings — it does spur a legitimate question: where has this effort been for the better part of the past two months?

Tune in to L.A. Today at noon for an in-depth discussion on how effort, or lack thereof, is shaping the season for the city's NBA teams. 

Photo Credit Associated Press

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