Kawhi Leonard hit seven straight photographs in a single stretch, making a run for the Clippers that his new teammates shortly joined.
“It is a terrific signal of management,” coach Doc Rivers mentioned. “He talks along with his recreation.”
Leonard started a brand new profession chapter Tuesday night time, scoring 30 factors to go together with a robust bench effort in a 112-102 victory over LeBron James and the Lakers within the groups’ season opener.
Leonard selected the Clippers as a result of he needed to come back dwelling and his household was available.
“All these feelings went by me once more,” he mentioned.
Lou Williams added 21 factors and Montrezl Harrell had 17 off the bench when the Clippers started their 50th season total and 36th in Los Angeles because the as soon as unlikely however now favorites to win the franchise’s first NBA championship.
“It is one in all 82 (video games),” Rivers mentioned. “Subsequent query.”
Leonard gained his second NBA title final season in Toronto.
The Lakers confirmed off their new 1-2 punch of James and Anthony Davis. Davis scored 25 factors, making 9 of 14 free throws, and James had 18.
“For us, we’re each aggressive,” Davis mentioned. “Generally we sort of miss one another. I missed him a pair instances and he missed me, so simply making an attempt to determine it out.”
Danny Inexperienced outscored them each with 28 factors, together with seven 3-pointers, within the highest-scoring debut by a Laker in franchise historical past.
Leonard received it achieved with out his private recruit Paul George, sidelined indefinitely whereas rehabbing from a pair of offseason shoulder surgical procedures.
“It is simply the primary recreation of the season, so it may take the season and errors and success to get us on the identical web page,” Leonard mentioned.
Sporting a black tuxedo jacket and bow tie, George obtained a blended response when launched within the playoff-like environment at Staples Heart, the place the Clippers have been the house workforce for the primary of 4 conferences within the area the groups share.
“Their followers have been very loud early and I believed our followers took over from that time on,” Rivers mentioned. “It is nice for town.”
The Clippers’ reserves outscored the Lakers’ bench, 60-19. Final season, Williams and Harrell have been the NBA’s highest-scoring reserve duo, they usually picked up the place they left off.
“This bench goes to be higher this 12 months than even final 12 months,” Rivers mentioned.
It got here right down to the fourth quarter, and the Clippers dominated.
Tied 85-all, they opened with a 19-7 run to go up 104-92. 5 completely different gamers scored and Leonard assisted on Maurice Harkless’ 3-pointer.
James had three of the Lakers’ six turnovers within the fourth, when Harkless and Leonard every blocked photographs by Dwight Howard.
“That was simply very careless they usually capitalized off of it,” James mentioned.
With four ½ minutes left, Lakers followers chanted “Let’s go, Lakers! Let’s go, Lakers!” whereas others hit the exits.
“The NBA’s again and everybody’s making an attempt to have the narrative of it is a rivalry recreation and it is an enormous take a look at,” James mentioned, “however I believe each groups are usually not the place they need to be. We now have loads of room to enhance.”
The Lakers erased a 14-point deficit within the third, led by Danny Inexperienced’s 18 factors. He capped a 15-Zero run along with his fifth 3-pointer earlier than JaMychal Inexperienced’s 3-pointer pulled the Clippers into an 85-all tie heading into the fourth.
The Clippers outscored the Lakers 40-29 within the second quarter, buoyed by 16 factors from Leonard. He made seven straight photographs on quite a lot of strikes — pullups, fadeaways, a chopping dunk.
The Lakers raced to a 13-2 lead, their largest of the sport. James scored over Leonard and he later heard “MVP! MVP!” chants whereas sinking his first free throws of the season.
The Lakers shot 53% from the ground within the first quarter, whereas the Clippers missed photographs and had a basket by Williams taken away when the Lakers challenged a foul name on Howard.
The rivalry was on early with a male fan shouting “Go Lakers!” throughout the nationwide anthem, drawing huge cheers whereas Clipper followers booed.
“It was every thing I anticipated,” Davis mentioned. “Very anticipated recreation and it was enjoyable.”
Lakers: They fell to 43-29 all-time in season openers. … G Rajon Rondo (sore proper calf) sat out.
Clippers: They improved to 25-25 in openers all-time, however nonetheless path the Lakers 3-2 when the groups meet in a season opener. … G Rodney McGruder (proper ankle sprain) missed the sport.
As a part of the NBA’s crackdown on fan habits this season, playing cards carrying a message from league safety have been on seats positioned courtside and the primary couple rows again. They reminded that each fan is required to adjust to the league’s fan code of conduct and anybody who acts inappropriately could also be topic to ejection and-or revocation of their tickets. The general public handle announcer reminded followers earlier than each halves about minding their manners.
Leonard took to the mic to welcome Clippers followers to the sport. He needed to increase his normally low voice to be heard over the din, a mixture of cheers from Clippers followers and boos from Lakers followers. “It is going to be a terrific season,” Leonard mentioned. “We will play arduous each night time. Let’s get it going.”
Well-known faces got here out, together with Kate Hudson, Angela Bassett, Jeff Garlin, and athletes Lisa Leslie and Diana Taurasi of the WNBA, Joc Pederson of the Dodgers and soccer participant Alex Morgan. Halsey carried out open air at LA Dwell earlier than the sport and Ty Dolla $ign rapped at halftime.
Lakers: Return to Staples Heart as the house workforce Friday in opposition to Utah. The Lakers are 25-12 all-time in opposition to the Jazz at dwelling.
Clippers: Journey to Golden State on Thursday to open the Chase Heart in San Francisco in one other blockbuster matchup.