With the loss to the Denver Nuggets, the Clippers have deprived the world of a battle for Los Angeles for the Western Conference Finals. All year, the Lakers versus Clippers seemed like an inevitability. The Lakers did their part while the Clippers blew a 3-1 lead to a young Nuggets team.
Despite finishing the season with the best record in the West, the Lakers were often considered the lesser of the two Los Angeles teams. The Clippers losing makes a lot of people look bad. Kyle Kuzma had heard the noise all year but he claims the team never worried about their rival.
“We’re not focused on the Clippers and we never really were,” Kuzma said Wednesday. “It’s all about who’s in front of you. When you focus on other teams instead of taking care of your food, I mean, sh*t happens like that. So, for us, we’ve always focused on us, and then focused on Portland, focused on Houston and controlled what we can control as a team. Now our focus is on Denver.”
These comments echo what other Lakers have said. In fact, no player on the team directly reacted to the Clippers’ collapse publicly outside of a vague tweet from JR Smith. There’s no doubt they’ve heard all the talk about how the Clippers are better but it’s clear they’re not trying to make a big deal about it.
Were the Clippers Focusing on the Lakers?
While the Lakers haven’t overlooked anybody, according to Kuzma, it’s hard to imagine the Clippers weren’t overlooking the Nuggets. Out of the two teams, the Clippers obviously had more talent. They might have more talent than any other team in the league. However, they showed a complete inability to close out games.
The Lakers were in control of their series when the Clippers went up 3-1 on the Nuggets. It’s very possible they started thinking about facing their archrival. There are a lot of reasons why the Clippers lost but underestimating Denver has to be a big one. Regardless of whether or not they were too focused on the Lakers doesn’t really matter. The Clippers wouldn’t have been able to beat them. The Lakers are playing the best basketball of any team and the Clippers clearly were having massive chemistry issues. If they would’ve survived Denver, the Lakers would’ve taken care of them with ease.
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Kuzma Reacts to AD & LeBron All-NBA 1st Team
In other news, the Lakers had two men selected for the All-NBA First-Team. LeBron James and Anthony Davis have made the team multiple times but this is the first time they’ve made it as Lakers. Kuzma was hyped for them.
It was no surprise that both of them made the team. All year, they’ve been consistent forces for Los Angeles. Davis finished second in Defensive Player of the Year voting while LeBron should finish top-two in NBA MVP votes. It was an all-around excellent year for both men.