LOS ANGELES, CA – In a star-studded nationally televised matchup worthy of a Hollywood thriller, the third time proved to be the charm for the Western Conference-leading Los Angeles Lakers in earning their first win over the cross-court rival Los Angeles Clippers, 112-103.
The Lakers, who many have picked to claim their 17th NBA title—and tie them with their longtime archrival, the Boston Celtics—have as much star power that a team playing in SoCal can ask for in three-time NBA champion and four-time NBA MVP in LeBron James and Anthony Davis. The Clippers, who have always been considered the “other team” in Los Angeles since moving to LA from San Diego—sound familiar, Charger fans!—have just as much big-name stars in the form of two-time NBA champion and two-time NBA Finals MVP, Kawhi Leonard and one of the league’s most underrated superstars in Paul George.
On this fateful Sunday afternoon, the sports galaxy was centered in ‘The City of Angels” and Round III in the Battle of L.A. delivered. Thanks to James’ 28 points, seven rebounds and nine assists, Davis’ 30 points, eight rebounds and two assists and Avery Bradley’s 24 points three rebounds and one assist performances, the Lakers were able to outlast and survive a tough and gritty Clippers squad.
The Clippers were led by game-high scorer Paul George’s 31 points, six rebounds, three assists. Leonard followed up with 27 points and Montrezl Harrell added 20 points, eight rebounds and one assist.
If Clippers-Lakers III was a taste of what an all-L.A. West Finals may look like, then expect a physical, wide-open type of series with lots of timely defense and scoring, as the Lakers shot 44.8 percent for the game while the Clippers shot 39.5. While both teams didn’t fare well from long-range, as the Lakers went 10-35 (28.6 percent) and the Clippers went 7-31 (22.6 percent), such a series could be decided in the paint and at the free throw line as the Lakers made 24-28 (85.7), while the Clippers shot 28-37 (75.7).
The Lakers outscored the Clippers down low 44-38, despite being outrebounded, 49-45.
Both teams don’t meet again till April 5, with the Lakers being the “home” team at Staples. But in a series and rivalry where home court doesn’t matter, if there’s one thing that both can agree on, is that hope to see each other again to settle their all-L.A. beef once and for all.