Yesterday’s Christmas day marquee matchup was the battle of L.A between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Los Angeles Clippers. L.A. is currently dominating the Western Conference as the Lakers currently boast the best record in the West, 24-7. The Clippers place third with a 23-10 record.
The game wasn’t only between two elite teams, it was also a competition between four of the top-10 NBA athletes, two of them being LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard. The Lakers have always ruled the city as they have brought back home 16 NBA Championships. With LeBron being the new superstar of the team, he now wears the crown as the new King of L.A. This trend may be changing though as the Clippers have now defeated the Lakers every time they have played against each other this season. The Clippers defeated the Lakers on opening day, 112-102 and then again last night, 111-106.
Leonard has also proved that he could outplay King James. In the two games against LeBron, Kawhi has averaged, 32.5 points 9 rebounds, 5 assists and 1.5 steals in 34.7 minutes of play. He shot 55.3% from the field, 50% from the three and 94.4% from the line. James on the other had fell short and tallied an average of 20.5 points, 9.5 rebounds, 9 assists and 1.5 steals in 37.4 minutes of play. He shot 37.2% from the field 17.6% from beyond the arc and 75% from the free throw line.
Kawhi vs. LeBron on Christmas Day
Both Kawhi and LeBron had great games last night, but Leonard closed out the game a bit better than the King. Kawhi posted 35 points, five assists and 12 rebounds, while LeBron tallied 23 points, 10 assists and nine boards. The reigning Finals MVP also set a new franchise record for the most points in a win against the Lakers, per Clippers Nation. To Leonard though, the game is more than a one-on-one matchup.
“It’s not about me guarding a player one-on-one. We’ve been losing a lot games from team defense, not even one-on-one matchups. For me, it feels like we need more team defense other than you overemphasizing me guarding LeBron or even their best layer,” Leonard said.
As for LeBron, he blamed injury for his performance against the Clippers. He said that he suffered groin pain early on in the game when he was kneed by Patrick Beverley.
“I felt healthy going into the game,” James told reporters after the game. “The second or third defensive possession, I got kneed in the groin taking a charge from Pat Bev(erley). That kind of sent me back to where I was five days ago.”
Though the Clippers struggled at the beginning of last night’s game, they ultimately defeated the Lakers once again this season.
“We’re not going to blow teams out. It’s not going to be easy. Every night is a battle, stop worrying about the score. Just play every possession. Play hard. If we’re losing, don’t look up, just keep doing what we have to do to win,” Leonard said.
The Clippers take on the Utah Jazz next at home on Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. PST.