Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press
It would be difficult to set a better start for the new era of Los Angeles Clippers basketball than Tuesday’s result.
The Clippers defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 116-109 in the season opener at Staples Center in head coach Ty Lue’s first game in his new position. Paul George and Kawhi Leonard led the way for the winners, who played spoilers at Purple and Gold on the same night they celebrated last season’s championship.
LeBron James led the lost efforts for the Lakers, who shared their four games against the Clippers last season.
Notable player stats
- Paul George, F, LAC: 33 PTS, 6 REB, 3 AST, 13-of-18 FG, 5-of-8 3PT
- Kawhi Leonard, F, LAC: 26 PTS, 3 AST, 2 STL
- Serge Ibaka, C, LAC: 15 PTS, 6 REB
- LeBron James, F, LAL: 22 PTS, 5 REB, 5 AST
- Anthony Davis, F, LAL: 18 PTS, 7 REB
- Dennis Schroder, G, LAL: 14 PTS, 12 REB, 8 AST
PG-13 Earn some redemption, take clips to win
It may not seem completely right, but the Clippers will be defined by last season’s post-season failure until they can change the narrative in the playoffs.
After all, they failed to create a highly anticipated Western Conference showdown with the Lakers, as they gave the Denver Nuggets a 3-1 lead in the second round. This paved the way for Purple and Gold to reach the NBA Finals without too many challenges and led to an off-season in which the Clippers broke up with head coach Doc Rivers.
They also renewed the list, losing Montrezl Harrell, Landry Shamet and JaMychal Green, but bringing Serge Ibaka, Nicolas Batum and Luke Kennard to give more depth to Leonard and George.
The depth and length of the entire floor were immediately apparent, while the visitors jumped to a 39-19 lead in the first quarter. Eight different Clippers scored, and the defense defeated the shooters outside the Lakers and threw themselves on the lanes.
All that momentum quickly faded, however, as the Lakers found their rhythm. The Clippers scored just 17 points in the second quarter, Leonard fought off the field and George handled turnover issues.
It seemed a cruel joke for the Clippers to build a commanding advantage only to see him disappear in the season opener, as he did during the playoff crash against the Nuggets, but George – who has been widely criticized for the game his in the postseason – he had other ideas.
In the final two minutes of the third quarter, he scored an and-1, punched a traction shot on the tape, connected on a triple and hit a mid jumper to push the lead back to 11. continued in the fourth quarter for six times All-Star, who remained aggressive attacking the gang and shooting from outside.
George’s game was a welcome sign for the Clippers, as he was among the biggest culprits for their playoff loss. If he plays the way he played on Tuesday, he will be a competitor in the championship again.
The Lakers are short on the same night as the ring ceremony
It’s hard to blame the Lakers if their focus wasn’t exactly on the tip-off game.
They finished the NBA championship less than three months ago, had limited rest in a short off-season, and started the evening celebrating the title. A regular season game – even against rival Clippers – doesn’t have the same stakes as the last time they were on the main stage.
They started accordingly and were up to 22 points behind.
There would have been no explosion on the night of the ring as James connected to several shots from outside, Anthony Davis attacked on the blocks, Harrell offered a spark from the bench against his former team and Dennis Schroder filled out the new statistics sheet his team.
It was somewhat of a worrying sign for the Clippers and the entire league that the Lakers seemed to be moving and were still at one point until the third quarter, when LeBron unleashed a monster and drilled three depths.
Taking a fully hired Lakers with a more robust support cast, along with Harrell, Schroder and Marc Gasol, will be a daunting task during the playoffs and they hinted at the potential for stretching as they move away from the leader. .
However, all the Lakers offered were clues as James turned his ankle in the fourth quarter and the home team could not match the Clippers energy.
At least the Lakers can be comforted knowing that they started last season with a loss to their rivals in Los Angeles. Things are still going pretty well for them.
Both teams are in action Friday, when the Lakers host the Dallas Mavericks and the Clippers are at the Denver Nuggets.