LOS ANGELES, USA – LeBron James and Anthony Davis admit the Lakers still have some “learning” to do after Kawhi Leonard and the Clippers won the opening round of Los Angeles' revitalized battle for basketball supremacy
"It is the first game," said James after the Lakers bowed to the Clippers, 112-102, in a pulsating season-opening clash on Tuesday, October 22 (Wednesday, October 23, Philippine time) at the Staples Center. (READ: Kawhi, Clippers deny Lakers in glitzy Battle of LA)
"It was a huge test. We have a lot of room to improve,” added James. “We are a new group with a new system. We did some good things and we did some not so good things.
"We look forward to getting some film and seeing some of the mistakes we made."
James shot 7-of-19 for 18 points and Davis shot 8-of-21 for 25 points for the Lakers who are hoping their offseason changes will boost the team's fortunes after they finished a disappointing 37-45 and failed to qualify for the postseason for the sixth season in a row.
The one bright spot for the Lakers was newcomer Danny Green who scored 28 points by hitting 10 of his 14 field-goal attempts, including 7-of-9 from beyond the arc.
Davis said he and James will need time to get used to each other on the court.
"We are both aggressive so sometimes we miss each other," Davis said. "We are still learning and just trying to figure it out. This is game one of many."
Leonard, who arrived at the Clippers in the off-season after leading Toronto to the NBA title last season, wasted no time roaring back into action, leading the scoring with 30 points.
"I am just happy we came out and got a victory,” said Leonard. “We had great practices and some carry over from that tonight."
Leonard also had 6 rebounds and 5 assists, reserve guard Lou Williams finished with 21 points and power forward Montrezl Harrell tallied 17 points and 7 rebounds.
The Clippers attacked the rim, forced easy turnovers, used a stingy defense to keep James and his new sidekick Davis in check.
Junior varsity barb
The two Los Angeles teams made some of the most significant changes but the Clippers appeared to have added more value.
Every one of their bench players reached double figures on Tuesday as they outscored the Laker reserves, 60-19. Williams outscored the Lakers reserves by himself.
He said the Clippers didn't want to just win. That they are tied of playing second fiddle to the Lakers and wanted nothing more than to dominate their city rivals.
"We always play with a chip on our shoulder," Williams said. "For the last two months all the talk has been about the Lakers versus the Clippers.
"We hear that we are the junior varsity team, or little brother, or whatever. We are pros too. That's why we have a chip on our shoulder."
The Lakers roared to a 13-2 lead after a basket by Davis less than 4 minutes into the contest. However, the Clippers stormed back, cutting the deficit to 25-22 at the end of the quarter.
Clippers outscored the Lakers ,40-29, in the 2nd quarter and led 62-54 at halftime.
Thanks to the addition of Leonard from Toronto and Paul George from Oklahoma City, the Clippers are one of the early front runners to contend for a title.
"We would love to win a championship and I think we are going to compete at high level and give ourselves an opportunity," said Williams. – Rappler.com