Clippers set tone early

LOS ANGELES — The first quarter was all the L.A. Clippers needed to dispose of the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night.

The Clippers outscored the Lakers 35-22 in the first 12 minutes, and won 121-106 in a designated road game at Staples Center.

“I just thought we came out and set a tone early,” Clippers head coach Doc Rivers said.

Blake Griffin returned to the Clippers (15-19) after missing about four weeks with a sprained left MCL. He led the way with 24 points, six rebounds and six assists. Lou Williams scored 23 points off the bench while making 13 of 15 from the free throw line.

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Lakers hash things out in team meeting

EL SEGUNDO — The Los Angeles Lakers aired various frustrations among each other and their coaches in a team meeting Thursday that was held in lieu of a regular practice.

“I think we put it out there about how each guy was feeling about how they play on the basketball floor, how they feeling about the business of the organization, how they wanna be played or anything of that nature,” Ingram said. “Ultimately I would hope they felt free after they did it.”

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Key questions in L.A.

LOS ANGELES — “Questionable” will have different meanings to the Los Angeles Lakers and L.A. Clippers when they face off tonight at Staples Center.

Blake Griffin, who has missed the last four weeks with a sprained left MCL, was upgraded to questionable for tonight’s game. He participated in shootaround on Tuesday and was seen shooting and dunking.

But the final decision of whether Griffin suits up will be one that the team makes as a whole, Griffin said.

“I haven’t any pain or anything of any of the challenges or goals they’ve set for me at any point through this whole rehab process,” Griffin said. “But as far as (today), like I said, that’ll be a decision that we make as a team.”

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Rivers hitting his stride

EL SEGUNDO — Amid a mid-November road trip, L.A. Clippers guard Austin Rivers went through a rough stretch, particularly with poor play against the Charlotte Hornets and New York Knicks in consecutive games.

Rivers shot just 4 of 23 and was a combined minus-36 in 33 minutes in those two games. After those subpar performances, some of his teammates and coaches told him he needed to raise his level of play.

“Last year, you proved that you were a good player in this league,” Rivers recalled being told at the time. “You gotta prove now that you are an elite guy. You gotta prove that you’re a guy that teams are like, ‘(Expletive) man, we gotta game plan, we gotta stop him.’ You have not done that yet this year.”

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PG Ball out for tonight’s game

LOS ANGELES — Lonzo Ball will miss today’s Christmas Day game after an MRI revealed a sprain in his left shoulder, the Los Angeles Lakers announced Sunday. He will be re-evaluated in one week.

Ball suffered the injury in the first half of Saturday’s 95-92 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers. He left the game briefly in the second quarter, but was available to return and played in the second half.

“I’m not really sure what happened,” Ball said of the injury after Saturday’s game. “Definitely felt it, like, pop kind of. But I’ll just ice it. I’ll be ready to go on Christmas.”

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Lakers fade in fourth quarter

LOS ANGELES — Both teams were on the second night of a back-to-back.

Both teams were missing a star player.

But only one of those teams managed to dig deep and find a way to eke out the game.

The Portland Trail Blazers outlasted the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday night and came away with a 95-92 win on the road despite missing star point guard Damian Lillard.

“I felt like they were ready to give us that game, and we were not ready or winning to take it and at least do the things that are required to win NBA basketball games,” Lakers head coach Luke Walton said. “When you leave it up like that, anything can happen.”

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