Anthony Davis had a solid debut for the Lakers as he finished with 25 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks while Danny Green caught fire from downtown as he scored 28 points including six three-pointers.
The Clippers gave the Lakers fits on both ends for most of the night as Kawhi Leonard proved to be too much offensively while the team’s defense helped stifle both Davis and James.
With all the talk surrounding the two teams, James seemed to deny the magnitude of the game and the growing rivalry between them.
“I disagree. I disagree. I disagree on how big of a test it was… it’s the first game. Obviously, the NBA’s back and that’s what everybody’s trying to have the narrative of a rivalry game and it’s a huge test. I think both teams are not who they want to be,” James said.
“We have a lot of room to improve. We’re a new group that’s coming together. We have a new coaching staff, we have a new system. And it’s not a rivalry. We’re trying to get better every single day on how we can be as great as we can be. We did some good things tonight, we did some not so good things tonight and that happens in a Game 1, especially for a new club. So we look forward to getting in the film room tomorrow and seeing some of the mistakes that we made where we could have been better at.”
The media narrative all offseason pitted the Lakers and Clippers against each other given all the player movement in Los Angeles, and the two teams seemed to take their first bout more seriously than other Opening Night games.
James himself seemed a little out of sync with his teammates as he finished the night with five turnovers, with most of them being uncharacteristically off-target passes to players like Davis. Davis revealed the pair’s naturally aggressive play styles may have contributed to the sloppy play, so there is some optimism that more time together should solve those issues.
With the first game officially in the books, the Lakers now get to look forward to their home opener where they will be tested against another projected Western Conference force in the Utah Jazz.