South Bay Lakers Search For Relevance

The South Bay Lakers faced off against the Agua Caliente Clippers at the UCLA Health Training Center in El Segundo, California this Thursday, March 15. The South Bay Lakers and the Agua Caliente Clippers are the minor league basketball teams for the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers respectively.

The G League is the National Basketball Association’s official minor league basketball organization. It offers players, coaches, front office staff, and fans unique opportunities, as they have an up-close view to all facets of the game, allowing them to be on top of the action. Although the NBA’s G League has much upside, many NBA fans are unaware of the league.

Fernando Duran, a Santa Monica College student and avid NBA fan said, “I don’t really watch the G League, but I think they should have more tournaments … sort of like March Madness, because everyone watches that.”

After initially trailing by a wide margin of 14-points, the Lakers fought all the way back and beat the Clippers 108-104. The Lakers were led by guard Scott Machado who finished with 23 points and eight rebounds. Machado played 37 minutes and shot 100-percent from three-point range, making all four of his long range attempts.

Other noticeable performances included Alex Caruso, who has played in 28 career NBA games, finished with 22 points and nine assist. Thomas Bryant, who has played in 10 NBA games, finished with a double-double, scoring 20 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. Gary Payton II scored 12 points, collected five rebounds, and dished out six assists.

After the first quarter, the Lakers were shooting 40-percent from three-point range and had 13 assists, but then lost their energy and pushed all the momentum towards the Clippers. During the second quarter, the Lakers continued to shoot the ball well, but could not attain defensive stops.

The Lakers trailed by over 10 points during the second, but were able to cut their deficit to six. The third quarter was a slugfest, seeing 11 lead changes and 10 ties between the teams. The Clippers ballooned their lead to 14, but the Lakers again weathered the storm and cut the lead to five entering the fourth quarter.

Clippers forward C.J. Williams had the hot hand for his team, leading the way with 26 points and shooting better than 50 percent from the field, as he gave South Bay trouble all night long. It wasn’t until the middle of the fourth quarter when the Lakers started to take over the game.

With about eight minutes left, the Lakers simply had more energy than the Clippers, pushing the ball for points and setting up an aggressive defense, which gave them a lead that would prove to be to much for the Clippers to overcome. Having a player like Caruso who has NBA experience made a noticeable difference on the court, which he has noticed. When asked if he gets played against harder due to his NBA stature - Caruso said, “There is a little bit of a target on the back, but at the end of the day, everyone respects how great everyone is, so its really good competition to battle with guys like that.”

Regarding this comeback win, Lakers’ Caruso said, “I think it was just a focus and commitment to making dirty plays, you know boxing out, playing defense, rebounding, extra passes on offense, and once we get stops our offense opens up.”

The South Bay Lakers have one final home game against the Toronto Raptors’ minor league team, the Raptors 905, at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Match 17.