The Los Angeles Clippers defeated the Lakers for the second time this season as they currently rule the battle for Los Angeles. The Lakers and Clippers were neck and neck almost the entire game with the exception being the end of the first half. The Clippers were forced to crawl back from a 12-point deficit going into the third quarter, 63-51.
The game ultimately came down to the final seconds of play. With 3.4 seconds left in the game, LeBron James who was guarded by Patrick Beverley, held the ball above his head as he looked for an open player to pass to. Beverley, being the scrappy player that he is, pushed the ball out of LeBron’s hands. The officials ruled it Lakers’ ball but the Clippers challenged the call and succeeded. After watching a reply, the ruling was overturned as the officials concluded that the ball touched James’ hands last. The Clippers were given possession and closed out the game on top, 111-106.
In a post-game interview posted by Washington Post’s Ben Golliver, James revealed that he didn’t agree with the official’s final call.
“I was surprised by the overturn. I didn’t feel like the ball went off my hand. … If you look at slow motion 4, 5 or 10 times, you can always decide it’s a different call,” James said.
Beverley, on the other hand, celebrated his defensive play and also commented on the call.
“I just saw an opening and decided to take it. I’m fortunate I didn’t get a foul. Especially when you’re guarding a person and a player as good as LeBron James. You just want to stay as solid as possible. I went for it the first time and kind of missed. I thought I was going to get him on the elbow but he kind of pump-faked and I was able to make a defensive play,” Beverley said per Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times.
James closed out the game with 23 points, 10 assists and nine boards while Beverley tallied eight points, four assists and nine rebounds.
Players’ Reactions to Lakers-Clippers Game
Both sides of the Los Angeles battle spoke on their marquee Christmas Day matchup.
In a post-game interview posted by Mark Medina of USA Today, superstar Paul George didn’t seem to hype up tonight’s game at all. A reporter asked what tonight’s win over the Lakers meant in the big picture, and PG replied, “Nothing.”
Kawhi echoed those comments as he too was asked a similar question. Per Farbod Esnaashari of Forbes, Leonard was asked by a reporter if defending his hometown made him more competitive. Leonard who is a man of very little words subtly replied, “no.”
To other players, the game did hold some sort of significance. Tonight was the first time this season that the Clippers presented a fully healthy roster. Pat Bev commented on what that felt like.
“It felt good having our whole team. We looked disoriented at times, but that’s gonna come with time. It was our first time fully healthy, our first time playing together. Just fortunate to get a good win on the road, at home, on Christmas,” Beverley said in a post-game interview posted by Tomer Azarly of ClutchPoints.
Clippers’ big man Montrezl Harrell also revealed his thoughts on the team’s ability to make adjustments in the second half.
“We wasn’t playing hard, we was basically coasting through the game the first part. They was taking it to us and a lot to end the first half we were doing more complaining than playing. I think that second half we said forget everything, we’re going to come out here and play our way of basketball and we’re going to compete and we’re going to be that hard-playing team,” Harrell said per Greif.
According to Chris Haynes, Lakers’ superstar Anthony Davis wasn’t happy at all about his team’s performance as he repeatedly said, “we gave that game away.”
The Lakers continue to sit atop the Western Conference as they currently boast a 24-7 record. The Clippers place third in the West as they currently post a 23-10 record. The Lakers are scheduled to play against the Trail Blazers on Saturday next and the Clippers are going up against the Jazz on Saturday as well.