In front of a star-studded crowd at the Staples Center on Tuesday night, the Los Angeles Clippers and Lakers faced off in what has the makings of an intense rivalry given the All-Star firepower on both rosters.
Even without the newly signed Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, along with returning players, Patrick Beverly, Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell, showed up to hand the Lakers their first loss of the season in a 112-102 Clippers’ victory.
Leonard, a two-time NBA Champion, didn’t take long to get accustomed to the new system in Los Angeles, scoring a game-high 30 points, five rebounds, six assists and two blocks.
But Leonard didn’t do it alone. Williams chipped in with 21 points, five rebounds and seven assists and Harrell added 17 points, seven rebounds and four assists.
The defensive-minded Beverly made his impact felt throughout the game with his tenacious defense and high-energy staple of play to finish with two points, 10 rebounds, six assists and a block in 31 minutes of action.
The Lakers two biggest stars, LeBron James and newly-acquired power-forward and former New Orleans Pelicans Anthony Davis, both had below average shooting performances from the field as Davis made 8-of-21 shots for 25 points, 10 rebounds and five assists and James was 7-of-19 for 18 points, nine rebounds and eight assists.
Danny Green, a former teammate of Leonard was the highest scoring Laker hitting 7-of-9 3’s and finishing with 28 points on 10-of-14 shooting. He added seven rebound and two steals in 32 minutes of play.
While this was just one game, the tide is starting to turn more and more in the Clippers’ favor that Los Angeles is becoming a Clippers’ town. Dating back to the 2016-17 NBA season, the Clippers have won nine of the last 14 games played. Although, the Lakers still hold the advantage in the head-to-head series (143- 73) it’s hard to say that most won’t have the Christmas Day matchup circled on their calendars.