LeBron Hits Game Winner, Lakers Down Clippers
It feels good to have NBA basketball back!
In what felt like a playoff game the Lakers win a close one against the Clippers 103-101, splitting the season series at 2-2.
Anthony Davis led all scorers with 34 points and Paul George led the clippers with 30 points and shot 6/11 from three-point range. LeBron James added 16 points to go along with 11 rebounds and 7 assists, while his counterpart Kawhi Leonard finished with 28 points.
The cross-town rivalry didn't disappoint last night, but there were a few takeaways from the game.
Anthony Davis needs to be the "guy"
For one last night showed me that the Lakers absolutely need Anthony Davis at full strength in order for them to win a championship and the offense needs to flow through him. LeBron struggled for most of the game and shot 6-19 from the field but showed life late in the 4th quarter with some key buckets and defensive stops on both Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, but Davis carried the load for the Lakers on the scoring end and that's the way it needs to be.
My only knock on Davis is the fact that he doesn't carry a team for the entire duration of the game. He scored 32 points through the first three quarters of the game, but only scored two in the 4th quarter. Anthony Davis is too much for the Clippers to deal with and they know it so he needs to step it up a notch and get more of a dog in him.
The Lakers lack of consistency continues to be an issue.
The Clippers were without both Montrezl Harrell and Lou Williams and the Lakers lost a double-digit lead and only won by two points, that's a problem to me.
LA has a problem holding on to leads and tend to dig themselves into holes that they have to constantly climb out of. They get big leads early and then fall asleep in the second half and then have to scramble to catch up, the Lakers need to be more consistent on both the offensive and defensive ends and use their size to their advantage.
Kyle Kuzma to me was the unsung hero last night, scoring 16 points and nailed 4-7 3pts including two clutch 3's down the stretch. Dion Waiters was excellent in his Lakers regular season debut with 11 points, but the Lakers didn't get that much help from the rest of the supporting cast. The rest of the team scored a combined 26 points and that won't get it done in the postseason.
Paul George is the deciding factor for the Clippers
Kawhi Leonard may be the best player on the Los Angeles Clippers, but Paul George is the most important player on the team.
Paul George is a killer, always has been always will be. He heated up late and the Lakers didn't have an answer for him. George is the most athletic player on the Clippers and is a more versatile defender than Kawhi in my opinion.
He shows ability to take over games on both ends of the floor and he's the reason the Clippers even hung in the game last night. He scores effortlessly and is a tyrant on the defensive end. He's a better shooter than Kawhi and is a better ball handler. The Clippers load-managed Leonard all season long and will probably do so in the playoffs, so they are going to have to rely on Paul George to carry the load at times.
Hopefully the next time we see these two against each other is in the Conference Finals.