With a 112-103 win over their crosstown rivals on Sunday, the Los Angeles Lakers sent a message.
They will likely be favored against the Los Angeles Clippers in a hypothetical playoff series, and they will be playing nothing but home games while doing it.
The Lakers demonstrated as much with their first win of the season against the Clippers, pulling away in the third quarter and keeping their opponent at bay in the fourth. Despite it technically being a Clippers home game, Staples Center was clearly partisan for the Lakers.
Anthony Davis led the way with 30 points and eight rebounds, while LeBron James had 28 points, nine assists and seven rebounds.
As with most big wins, the Lakers needed a third player to step up, and this time it was Avery Bradley. He posted a season-high 24 points and strong defense against the Clippers’ deep backcourt.
Clippers’ win streak snapped
The loss snaps a six-game win streak for the Clippers, who seemed to be firing on all cylinders entering Sunday after getting healthy and stocking up at the trade deadline.
For as much credit as the Clippers have received for their vaunted depth — their bench alone could probably win 35 games in the East — they just didn’t seem to find a lineup that could sustain a late rally against James and Davis. The team ended up getting outscored by 17 points with Kawhi Leonard on the floor, something you do not see often.
It was also a brutal day for trade acquisition Marcus Morris, who posted one point on 0-of-9 shooting from the field.
On the bright side, Paul George looked like the superstar the Clippers need him to be if they want to win their rematch on April 9 and in the playoffs against the Lakers. George scored 31 points on 9-of-16 shooting with six rebounds and three assists, his first 30-point game since Jan. 5 against the New York Knicks.
Lakers’ best weekend of the season
Between Sunday’s win and Friday’s romp against the Milwaukee Bucks, the Lakers have notched back-to-back wins over teams they were a total of 0-3 against entering this weekend. The team is now 49-13, with a 6.5-game lead over the Clippers for the top seed in the Western Conference.
That’s a very good weekend, one that could possibly cement the team as title favorites entering the playoffs. Lakers center JaVale McGee certainly seems to think the team is there.
"It was very important," McGee said when asked to put the Lakers' win over their Staples Center cohabitants into perspective. "Just to quiet the doubters.
"The Lake Show [is] the best team in the world right now."
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