Weeks of anticipation created a playoff-like atmosphere at Staples Center for Opening Night of the 2019-20 NBA season and a back-and-forth affair that saw the Los Angeles Clippers pull away late for a 112-102 win over the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Lakers opened the game with a 13-2 run, to the delight of much of the crowd despite it being a designated home game for the Clippers. LeBron James and Anthony Davis led the way early but foul trouble began to set in.
Davis scored nine points in the first quarter to help the Lakers hang onto a 25-22 lead after the first 12 minutes, but he and Dwight Howard each had two personal fouls. In addition to foul trouble, Davis was hampered by a handful of missed free throws.
Having been mercilessly booed during lineup introductions, Kawhi Leonard began to take control in the second quarter when the Lakers inserted their reservers. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had particular trouble attempting to slow Leonard, who connected on seven consecutive baskets.
In addition to struggling on defense, the Lakers additionally became stagnant on offense and turned the ball over.
With Leonard leading all scorers with 20 points, the Clippers took a 62-54 lead into halftime and immediately added to it early in the third quarter. Just as their deficit swelled to 14 points, the Lakers found some momentum after a timeout.
And again when he was given a microphone. pic.twitter.com/A3YQx3qyp5
— Matthew Moreno (@MMoreno1015) October 23, 2019
Danny Green’s shooting led to 18 points in the third quarter and combined with Davis continuing to assert himself on the block, the game went into the fourth tied at 85. Green starting the final 12 minutes on the bench had an adverse impact on the Lakers’ shooting.
James and Quinn Cook combined to miss on a tiro of 3-pointers, which allowed the Clippers to open up a small lead. But in keeping with the theme of the game, the Lakers quickly pulled back to within two points.
They turned the ball over on a possession that could have tied the game and did so again their next time down the court, which led to the Clippers taking a seven-point lead. The Lakers never recovered and suffered hard-fought loss in what they hope is the early stages of a new era.