The battle for Staples Center was a closely fought battle in the opening 24 minutes, with the Lakers taking a 52-50 lead over the Clippers into halftime, but the story of the first half was Kobe Bryant leaving early with an apparent hand injury. Kobe was called for a foul while guarding Randy Foye with 3:03 remaining in the first half, then immediately asked out of the game. He appeared to be in tremendous pain on the bench, burying his head in his towel for a minute or two, before heading to the locker room early for treatment. Before leaving the bench, Kobe was seen wiggling the fingers in his right hand.
At halftime, Mike Trudell of NBA.com reported that the injury wasn't all that bad:
Kobe Bryant is fine. Banged his funny bone (ulnar nerve contusion), will start the second half.
Pau Gasol had a strong first half for the Lakers, leading all scorers with 18 points, on 7-of-8 shooting. Andrew Bynum added seven points, on 3-of-4 shooting, three rebounds, three assists, and a block for the Lakers, who have beaten the Clippers six straight times as the home team. Kobe scored six points in 15 minutes of play.
Randy Foye lead the Clippers 17 points, including making four of five shots from three-point range. Blake Griffin had 12 points and seven rebounds in the first half, but settled for too many jump shots, shooting just 4-of-12 from the field. DeAndre Jordan had eight rebounds and three blocks for the Clippers int he first half.
For more information on tonight's game, be sure to read both Silver Screen and Roll and Clips Nation.