Los Angeles, CA (SportsNetwork.com) - The Lakers didn't have Kobe Bryant for their season opener, but their unheralded supporting cast came up big Tuesday to down the rival Clippers, 116-103, at Staples Center.
Bryant, still rehabbing his Achilles injury, watched from the bench as Xavier Henry, Jordan Farmar, Jodie Meeks and Jordan Hill took over late to give the Lakers a surprising victory in the season's first battle for Los Angeles.
Henry scored 22 points, Farmar added 16 and Meeks and Hill added 13 and 12, respectively, for the Lakers, who made 14 3-pointers and erupted for 41 points over the final 12 minutes.
Pau Gasol chipped in 15 points and 13 rebounds in the resounding win.
The Clippers' bench was a key component in last season's franchise-record 56- win campaign. They added several new names to the fold after falling in the first round of the playoffs, most notably J.J. Redick, who had 13 points in a losing effort.
They also switched head coaches from Vinny Del Negro to Doc Rivers, and Rivers saw his bench get outscored 76-34 in his first game on LA's bench.
Blake Griffin paced the Clippers with 19 points, DeAndre Jordan checked in with 17 points and 11 boards and Chris Paul scored 15 with 11 assists.
Neither team led by more than eight points in the opening three quarters. That changed quickly in the fourth when the Lakers' reserves suddenly caught fire.
Farmar, Meeks, Henry and Wesley Johnson all connected from behind the arc on a 17-5 run that turned a four-point deficit into a 94-86 Lakers lead with 7:35 to play.
A 10-0 spurt a little later stretched the cushion to 15, and after Hill banked in an 18-footer and tipped in a Johnson miss, the Lakers were on top, 108-91 and cruised the rest of the way.
There were 11 lead changes and seven ties in a tight, fast-paced first half.
Gasol scored 11 points in the first five-plus minutes to counter the output from Redick and Jordan, who combined for 22 points in an opening quarter that ended with the Clippers clinging to a 30-28 lead.
Things stayed close throughout the second and the Clippers still led by two, 57-55, at the break after Gasol had a jumper waived off at the buzzer.
The Clippers led by as many as eight, 63-55, early in the third following another Jordan dunk, but the Lakers responded with an 11-2 run to retake the lead. Griffin answered with a bucket inside and the Clippers took a 79-75 edge into the fourth.
Game Notes: Bryant missed the season opener for the fifth time in his 18-year career. The Lakers have won all five games he's missed ... The Lakers had 30 second-chance points to the Clippers' 16 ... Jamal Crawford netted 15 points for the Clippers, who shot just 13-of-23 from the foul line ... The Warriors play the Lakers on Wednesday and the Clippers on Thursday ... The Clippers swept all four games last season, winning by an average of 13.25 points per game.