The Los Angeles Clippers and the Los Angeles Lakers met for the second time in the 2019-2020 season on Christmas day and boy did they not disappoint! Both teams came to play and the environment was electric. This was must see tv! The game was a home game for the Lakers, but let’s be honest, every game at the Staple Center between these two teams is a home game for the Lakers.
Going into the game, Lakers had the second best record in the NBA, but were on a 3-game losing streak after suffering loses to the Milwaukee Bucks, Indiana Pacers and Denver Nuggets. The Clippers had lost to the Houston Rockets, beaten the San Antonio Spurs and lost to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Lakers were in control for the majority of the game. They maintained the lead for most of the game and had taken a 15-point lead in the 3rd quarter before Clippers mounted their comeback. By the end of the 3rd quarter Clippers had tied the game. Clippers didn’t take the lead until around the 3 minute mark in the 4th quarter. Once Clippers took the lead they never gave it up. Clippers are now 2-0 against the Los Angeles Lakers in what the media has labeled Battle for LA.
Patrick Beverly Came To Play
Patrick Beverly only scored 8 points on 3-7 shooting, but he grabbed 9 rebounds. 5 of his rebounds came in the 4th quarter. Beverly is also credited with the block of the night. With the Clippers leading by 3 points and the ball in LeBron James’ hands, Beverly played magnificent defense on LeBron and knocked the ball loose and it went out off of LeBron’s fingertips causing a turnover for the Lakers and preventing a potential game tying 3-point attempt by LeBron James. Lakers were forced to foul after that and the game was over after Paul George made both of his free throws.
A Game Of Two Halves
We witnessed a game of two halves. The first half belonged to the Los Angeles Lakers. To be honest, the Lakers seemed in control for most of the game. They seemed to be firing on all cylinders. Despite the fact that LeBron was being kept in check by the Clippers in that first half, he was able to grab rebounds and get assists for his teammates. Anthony Davis was playing well during the first half and unsuccessfully tried to defend Kawhi but Kawhi was unstoppable.
The Clippers were being fouled and getting to the free throw line, but with the exception of Kawhi, the rest of the team was shooting an abysmal percentage. At one point, Clippers were 4 of 11 from the free throw line. Nothing seemed to be going their way. The Clippers were discombobulated. The Lakers used their size to control the game and build on their lead. Thanks to the wizardry of the 2-Time Finals MVP, Kawhi Leonard, the Clippers were able to stay within striking distance.
After falling behind by as much as 15 points in the 3rd quarter, the Clippers went on a 33-18 run to tie the game up at the end of the 3rd quarter. Even after tying up the game, the Clippers just couldn’t seem to take the lead. They would tie the score and then the Lakers would make a run and go up 5 or 6 points. 33 games into the season and this is the first game that the entire Clippers roster were fully healthy and on the court together. So one can see why they seemed disjointed at times.
The Kawhi-led Clippers was able to lead a charge in the final minutes of the 4th quarter that resulted in the Clippers taking the lead and ultimately winning their second game against the Western Conference leading Los Angeles Lakers.
It’s Just A Game
After the game, Kawhi provided us with several gems in the postgame interview.
“Yeah. I mean, even if it’s a championship and you’re down to the wire, it still feels like a game. But tonight (there were) two great teams battling on Christmas, I hope the fans enjoyed.” Kawhi when asked if it was just a game.
“I told everyone to stop worrying about the score. Just play every possession and play hard, so we can keep building on something and get better and I think we did that tonight.” Kawhi when asked about being down 15 points in the 3rd quarter.
“It does nothing. It’s one game out of the season. Whoever won this game isn’t going to win an LA championship or anything. Both teams have their eyes on the biggest prize.” Kawhi on what this win does for the Battle for LA rivalry.
“It’s not going to be easy. If we’re losing don’t look up (at the scoreboard). Just keep doing what we have to do to win.” Kawhi on his pep talk to his teammates before their comeback win.
What Did We Learn About the Clippers?
We learned that Kawhi Leonard is who we thought he was. Despite what most analysts on FOX and ESPN will tell you, Kawhi is the best player in the NBA when he’s fully dialed in and he was definitely the best player on the floor on Christmas Day. Kawhi’s FG was 11-19 and 5-7 from 3-PT for 35 points. He grabbed 12 rebounds and had 5 assists. 11 of his points game in the 4th quarter.
We learned that the Clippers are a resilient bunch. Early in the 3rd quarter, it looked as if the Lakers might run the Clippers out of the building. Lakers fans which were the majority of fans in the building were celebrating. It seemed as if everything was going their way. And before you know it, Clippers were back in it. Paul George didn’t have a great offensive game shooting just 5 for 18 for 17 points, but his defense was spectacular. His defense played a key factor in this win for the Clippers.
Patrick Beverly proved that it isn’t the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog. We saw this in his game winning block against LeBron James. We saw this in his 9 rebounds for the game.
We learned that the Clippers are a really good team and that their opening night win over the Lakers was not a fluke. We learned that the Clippers can become a truly great team, but that they still have a lot of work to do to become the team that they want to be.
We also learned that Doc Rivers has a lot of work to do in figuring out how to get everyone minutes on this team. If Clippers can continue on their evolution and they stay healthy, this team will be must see basketball by the time the playoffs arrive.