George and Kawhi lead Clippers past LeBron's Lakers in season opener

By Sacha Pisani 23 December 2020 72
George and Kawhi lead Clippers past LeBron's Lakers in season opener

The Los Angeles Clippers claimed early bragging rights over the Los Angeles Lakers after upstaging the defending champions 116-109 on the opening night of the NBA season.

Paul George and Kawhi Leonard led the way as the Clippers took down city rivals the Lakers behind closed doors in Los Angeles amid the coronavirus pandemic on Tuesday.

George fuelled the Clippers with 33 points, including 26 in the second half, while star team-mate Leonard added 26 points of his own.

LeBron James top-scored with 22 points as the Lakers' title defence started on a losing note, despite double-doubles from recruits Dennis Schroder (14 points and 12 rebounds) and Montrezl Harrell (17 points and 10 rebounds) – who left the Clippers via free agency.

Lakers star Anthony Davis finished with 18 points and seven rebounds in the season-opening defeat.

The Lakers, who unveiled their championship rings pre-game, were coming off the shortest offseason in NBA history after ending the franchise's 10-year wait for a title inside the Orlando bubble on October 11.

Frank Vogel's Lakers were slow out the blocks and the Tyronn Lue-led Clippers – who parted ways with head coach Doc Rivers at the end of 2019-20 – took advantage.

The Clippers raced out to a 22-point lead after outscoring the Lakers 39-19 in the opening quarter, though the latter eventually worked their way back into the contest.

However, it was too little too late as the Clippers – who sensationally surrendered a 3-1 lead against the Denver Nuggets in last season's Western Conference semi-finals – ushered in the Lue era in style.

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Sacha Pisani

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