It was a pretty great sight to see the Lakers get their rings last night after a hard-earned championship in the bubble, just 72 days ago. The minute that ended, it was pretty much a night to forget. At the tip-off, the Clippers got off to a hot start and found themselves up 41-20 right early in the second quarter.
The new starting five of Dennis, KCP, LeBron, AD, and Marc Gasol was interesting, to say the least, and I’m sure head coach Frank Vogel will switch this around frequently as the season goes on. This was somewhat expected to happen, considering how emotional and distracting a ring ceremony can be for any team. It was only one game but most certainly not the start the Lakers needed or wanted.
Paul George had 33 points and shot 13-18 from the field; he really heated up in the second half. His star teammate in Kawhi got 26 points as well with a below-average shooting night. As some expected including myself, it seemed as if LeBron and AD were still on some type of restriction from Vogel as James only played 28 minutes and AD played 31 minutes. The 22 from LeBron and the 18 from AD were not enough to keep up with the Clippers’ offensive firepower last night, especially after the extremely poor start they got off to. Some more positives to take away was the impact of Dennis Schroder and Harrell. They both got doubles-doubles and were doing a good job at keeping the intensity of the game at a high level, even though it got away from the Lakers at the end.
If some of you can remember, the same thing happened last year. The Clippers beat the Lakers on opening night and pretty much made themselves a media favorite. The Lakers went on to win the title that year, but that year is over with. Many expect the Lakers to be a much better team from last year’s title, but now it is probably time to say the same thing about the Clippers.
The Lakers are the title favorites, but they are not going to steamroll the whole league like last year. The Clippers and many other teams will be coming for them, and they need to do a better job of staying focused, unlike last night. One thing we should all keep in mind is that this is the shortest offseason of any sport in the North American region of all time. It has only been around two months; since then, the Lakers and the Heat concluded the NBA finals in the bubble.
We may be in for a slow start coming from the Lakers, but I expect them to pick it up when they are expected to. It’s never smart to overreact after one game, so I won’t be doing that now; however, there is plenty of room for improvement from this championship team. There needs to be an immediate response Friday night when the Mavericks come to town. The last thing this team wants to do is start 0-2, especially against elite teams that will be coming for their title this season.