RICHMOND- 15 points was the lead. It was in their hand. And yet, they got naughty and opened the gifts too early without permission.
The Los Angeles Lakers are now 0-2 against their in state rival, the Los Angeles Clippers this season after a 111-106 loss on Christmas day.
The Clippers move to 23-10 on the year and are looking as strong and formidable as expected.
The Lakers’ record is 24-7. 4 consecutive losses and now members of the media are in shambles. How could their golden boy Lebron James be losing like this after such a hot start?
Hall of Fame tight end Shannon Sharpe’s twitter is the perfect example with his tweets of anger after this recent loss, given his obsession with James and the magnitude of the game.
The game, while living up to the hype of the two best teams in the conference going in a heated battle, was a one sided affair for most of the game, especially at the half when the Lakers were up 63-51.
Early on in the game, Forward Anthony Davis and noted sharp-shooter Danny Green got the offense of the Lakers going as they combined to score the first 10 points of the game for the Lakers. Clippers star Kawhi Leonard carried the Clippers offensively.
The young Lakers star Kyle Kuzma, who missed the first meeting between the two, scored 10 quick points off the bench. Kuzma capped off his hot shooting quarter with a deep three-pointer to put the Lakers up 33-31 going into the second quarter.
Despite Hall of Famer LeBron James struggling to convert from the field, the bench picked up the slack with both Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Rajon Rondo making plays to help keep the lead for the Purple and Gold. A resurgent Dwight Howard was also a spark off the bench.
In the second quarter, the contest remained fairly close as both teams showed no mercy and a willingness to surrender. But the Lakers closed the quarter on a 17-2 run and went into the half with a 12 point lead.
In the third quarter, led by the inspiration of their defensive leader Patrick Beverly, the Clippers refused to surrender and both Leonard and Paul George went into a mode of action and went on a shooting spree.
Meanwhile, the Lakers went outside into cold temperatures and carried the feeling into their scoring percentage, not being able to establish any rhythm.
Heading into the 4th quarter, the contest was tied at 86 apiece, the Lakers were shocked that they let their advantage slip away and James wasn’t able to find his groove at any time up till that point.
James finally began to settle into the game, hitting a three and setting up Caldwell-Pope for another three.
Despite these efforts, the Lakers were cold from beyond the arc, the Clippers meanwhile, took advantage and were able to grab their very first lead of the second half.
Leading 109-106, the Clippers were aware of Lebron’s attempt to run down the clock for a final shot, but Beverly, having had enough of the media love affair for the Lakers, delivered a signature block on James with less than 10 seconds left that allowed the Clippers to get the ball back and score two more points to finish the contest.
The Clippers attempted fewer FG’s than the Lakers (85 to 96) and had a lower FT percentage (76.2-75), but converted better on their shot attempts (45.9 – 40.6). The Lakers’ even hit 12 three pointers to the Clippers’ 9. So what was the reason for the loss? Lack of aggression.
Pat Riley coined the term of “no rebounds, no rings” and the Clippers out-rebounded the Lakers 50-42.
James had a decent night going 23-10-9 but missed critical free throws near the end of the game which only adds fuel to the notion of “Lebron cannot close”. Davis finished 24-3-6 while Kuzma went 25-0-4 and Caldwell-Pope went 13-2-2.
Leonard led the Clippers at 35-12-5 and George registered 17-3-5. Montrezl Harrell hit 18 off the bench while Ivica Zubac scored 11. Beverly had a night of 8-4-9 but was a large part of the defensive effort on the night.
Santa treated the Clippers to a very warm reception for their win while the Lakers received coal.
Did Sharpe open “Club Shay Shay” and serve L’s to his Lakers friends like he does to the Dallas Cowboys when they lose? We are guessing not. Looks like he didn’t get his way and is salty about it.
Next up for the Clippers is the Utah Jazz at home on 12/28 while the Lakers head on the road to face the Portland Trail Blazers also on the 28th.
A holiday comeback for the ages for the Clippers, and a disheartening Christmas for the purple and gold.