The LA showdown happened on Xmas day with the Lakers hosting the Clippers at the Staples Center. It was an intense playoff like atmosphere and rematch of the opening night game when the Clippers won. Everyone was healthy and the Lakers have taken over with the best record in the West. The Lakers were coming in with a 3 game losing streak and it ended up going to 4 with the Clippers taking this close one 111-106 despite a season high 25 points from Kyle Kuzma as he was on fire in the first half. He ended with 25 points on 8-17 shooting as Anthony Davis also went 8-17 and finished with 24 points. Lebron James ended with a triple double but didn’t shoot well going 9-24 (2-12 from 3 point range). Pope was the only other Laker in double figures with 13 points.
The Clippers were led by Kawhi Leonard with 35 points and 12 rebounds. He was dominant going 11-19 from the field (5-7 from 3 point range) and 8-8 free throws while playing great defense. Paul George had an off shooting night going 5-18 but 6th man extraordinaire Montrez Harrell had 18 points. It was a balanced attack and tough defense late in the game with Patrick Beverly stripping James near the end with the Clippers up by 3 points. The ball was given to the Clippers after the review as it went off James and 2 free throws later made the final score a 5 point victory to claim the LA battle.
The Clippers shot 45% for the game and holding the Lakers to 40%.
Both coaches acknowledged the tough close game and know it is going to be a fight later this season between these 2 teams and some others in the Western Conference loaded with good teams.
Clips improved to 23-10 while the Lakers fell to 24-7. This rivalry will continue and they may meet back up in late May or early June to go to the finals as they are looking like the 2 toughest teams in the West. More at www.nba.com/lakers and www.nba.com/clippers