LOS ANGELES — After losing 11 straight games vs. the Clippers, the Lakers finally take home the victory in Crypto.com Arena, 130-125. To point out, this was the first time LeBron James and company have beaten their neighbors since back three years ago when the NBA Bubble was a thing.
In tonight’s overtime win, LeBron scored 35 points on 13-of-19 shooting, grabbed 12 rebounds, and dished out 7 assists. While James’ sidekick Anthony Davis had 27 points, and 10 rebounds, and was a menace on the defensive end, recording four blocks and two steals. Then D’Angelo Russell, coming off a 28-point outing vs. the Orlando Magic on Monday, followed up with another great performance tonight, as he scored 27 points with six assists. On the other side, Kawhi Leonard scored 38 points, Paul George scored 35, and former Laker Russell Westbrook added 24 points to the team’s total. Altogether, the trio shot a combined 14-of-26 from three-point range, yet the rest of the Clippers’ supporting cast shot an abysmal 0-for-8 from deep.
The Lakers were shorthanded tonight as they were missing Rui Hachimura, Taurean Prince, and Gabe Vincent, as a consequence, the Clippers took advantage of the absences by starting off strong, racking up 37 first-quarter points. Led by Leonard scoring 13 points in the first five minutes of the game, at one point during the first quarter, the Lakers were trailing by as much as 19 points.
That is to say, it appeared the game was heading to a runaway blowout win for the Clippers until LeBron scored 15 second-quarter points, which allowed the momentum to shift heading into halftime. In the third quarter, the Lakers continued their comeback, as they closed the deficit and actually went up two points before the start of the fourth quarter. Ultimately, LeBron’s 11-point fourth-quarter performance put the Lakers in position to win, however, George kept the Clippers in the game as he splashed four three-pointers in the last quarter, and made the last three clutch free throws with 17 seconds left to make the final regulation score 117-117, forcing overtime.
As the Clippers were coming off the second half of a back-to-back, and with Leonard along with George each playing an anomalous 70+ minutes in the last 24 hours, the Lakers had the advantage the longer the game went on, especially after George fouled out in the first 30 seconds of overtime. Then with two minutes left in OT, the nightcap of the game came when Austin Reaves tossed a signature fastbreak alley-oop to LeBron, which got the fans in the crowd, who were wearing purple and gold, on their feet, whereas the other hometown fans wearing red, remained seated. Climatically, the game was sealed after Christian Wood had a putback dunk, making the final score 130-125.
38-year-old LeBron continues to show that age is just a number, as he played 42 minutes, and proved he still can take over games against the best of the best. The NBA’s all-time leading scorer, night in and night out demonstrates his longevity, such as considering that LeBron’s season-high 35 points tonight is the most ever for a player in their 21st season or beyond. “I work on my body everyday, I work on my mind everyday to be available to my teammates,” James told reporters following the overtime victory. “This was a big win for us, and I’m happy I was able to contribute a little bit.”
Since newly acquired Los Angeles native, James Harden, is set to make his debut for the Clippers at the start of next week, the team will have even more support for the next three LA rivalry battles, as they will seek to avenge this Lakers’ win; both teams are set to matchup again January 7, January 23 (TNT), and February 28 (ESPN).