LOS ANGELES (AP) — Danilo Gallinari scored 23 points, Lou Williams added 21 and the Los Angeles Clippers dealt another blow to the Los Angeles Lakers’ fading playoff hopes with a 113-105 victory Monday night.
Gallinari led six Clippers scoring in double figures while they comfortably maintained a lead over their Staples Center co-tenants down the stretch. The Clippers (37-29) took sole possession of seventh place in the Western Conference standings with their sixth win in eight games.
LeBron James scored 27 points and Rajon Rondo had his 32nd career triple-double, but the Lakers took their ninth loss in 12 games since they beat the Clippers on Jan. 31.
The Clippers have been through a thorough franchise upheaval over the past two seasons, breaking up their successful core and further stripping the team with several recent trades, but they’re still on target for a playoff return. Clippers coach Doc Rivers dismissed the notion of tanking before the game, saying he doesn’t “know what that is.”
Rondo had a season-high 24 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds for the Lakers (30-34), who dearly want to make the playoffs after a five-year absence. Instead, they have all but fallen apart in February and March.
Two days after an embarrassing road loss to NBA-worst Phoenix put a huge dent in their playoff chances, the Lakers played without forward Brandon Ingram, who developed right shoulder soreness after the morning shootaround. Ingram had played in 50 straight games, averaging 18.3 points and 5.1 rebounds in a strong first season alongside James.
Kyle Kuzma then scored 13 points before he limped off the floor with an apparent ankle injury with 6:04 to play.
Although the Lakers still have an enormous overall lead in this rivalry, the Clippers have won the season series in each of the past six years. The Clippers have taken two of three heading into the final meeting this season on April 5.
Rondo is 11th in NBA history with 32 triple-doubles. He and Mark Jackson are the only players to record a triple-double with five different teams.
Ivica Zubac started for the Clippers and finished with seven points against the Lakers, who drafted the Croatian 7-footer in the second round in 2016 and fostered his development until trading him last month for Mike Muscala, who had six points for the Lakers.
Clippers: Luc Mbah a Moute warmed up before the game, but wasn’t quite ready to return from the left knee injury that has kept him out for 61 games since Oct. 23. Wilson Chandler (strained right quadriceps) also sat out. ... The 6-foot-1 Williams drove the paint and dunked in the first quarter.
Lakers: Lance Stephenson (sprained toe) and Tyson Chandler (stiff neck) didn’t play. ... Lonzo Ball missed his 17th straight game with a sprained left ankle and bone bruise. He will be re-evaluated this week. ... LA Galaxy greats Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Robbie Keane watched the game at courtside.
Clippers: Host the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday.
Lakers: Host the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday.
More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports