LeBron James, Anthony Davis react to Lakers loss to Paul George, Clippers
In the final meeting between the two crosstown “rivals” with their joint home arena still called “Staples Center”, the Los Angeles Lakers fell to the Los Angeles Clippers, 119-115 on Friday — the Lakers 8th loss to the Clippers in the past 12 meetings. Afterward, LeBron James and Anthony Davis were more complimentary about the Clippers’ shot-making than discouraged about their team’s performance.
First — let’s get one thing out of the way. In his postgame remarks, LeBron opened up about his frustration with spending two days in isolation and being forced to find his way home solo from Sacramento on Monday after registering what turned out to be a false positive COVID-19 test. You can read about all that here, but, he tested negative then positive and everybody in his household was placed in protocols before he took a third test. He said he was asymptomatic and “confused, frustrated, and angry” by a situation that he felt was handled “poorly”.
LeBron said Friday morning was the first time he was able to touch a basketball since the Lakers win over the Detroit Pistons on Sunday. He declined to say whether he would get a booster shot.
Here's LeBron explaining his anger to @DanWoikeSports. After testing – then + he was forced to get back to LA w/o security & had to isolate his kids. He said usually he would've immediately taken a 3rd test. He later praised NBA protocols, just took issue w/ what went down in Sac pic.twitter.com/jpcmBCh8au
— Michael Corvo (@michaelcorvoNBA) December 4, 2021
As for the basketball, the Lakers chipped away all game but never attained a lead. Malik Monk (20 points) lived up to his “Microwave” nickname, but missed three big shots late (a floater and two threes), and the Lakers were never able to take control.
An excellent play-call from Ty Lue — who LeBron told ClutchPoints has no weaknesses as an NBA coach, and multiple Lakers lauded — set up a massive Luke Kennard triple. Kennard followed that up with another tough three, then Marcus Morris Sr. put the game away with a fortunate bank from deep.
Beautiful after-timeout play by the Clippers, who exploit the Lakers’ penchant for doubling Paul George. LAC sent Luke Kennard for the screen. But rather than short rolling to the free throw line, he faded to the corner, where he got a wide open look. pic.twitter.com/HkQqzLQFJz
— Positive Residual (@presidual) December 4, 2021
Anthony Davis (27 points and 10 rebounds) commended the Clippers for their shot-making — especially Kennard, Morris, and Serge Ibaka.
“We had plenty of chances to take the lead. They made some big shots.”
AD cited a cold shooting night from James and Talen Horton-Tucker, the momentum-killing miss from Monk, and a detrimental offensive foul on Russell Westbrook on the block just before he was about to feed AD for an open dunk in the waning minutes.
“Little things just didn’t go our way, and they came down and made some tough shots,” Davis lamented. “We had our chances. We just tried to keep fighting to get over the hump. Wasn’t able to get over the hump tonight.”
“We’ll take the looks we got. That’s all we can do is … continue shooting the ball with confidence … Don’t get down of ourselves.”
James added 23 points, 11 rebounds, and six assists in 36 minutes but struggled with his shot (9-of-23). Yet, Davis and Frank Vogel praised LeBron’s effort under trying circumstances and understandable rust. Davis said it’s always tough when LeBron — or anyone — is in and out of the lineup.
LeBron himself admitted to being “pretty shitty” on defense in his first game back, especially in the first few minutes of the fourth quarter, when the Lakers turned to their new favorite “centerless” lineup with James and Carmelo Anthony as the two bigs.
“I knew I would be out of rhythm,” James said. “I knew I wouldn’t have exactly what I needed.”
That said, James didn’t think the Lakers defensive issues enabled the Clippers to thrive from downtown late in the contest.
“We didn’t allow them make (16) threes. One thing about when the Clippers are playing exrremely well, we know they’re one of the best three-point shooting teams in the leauge. I thought a lot of those we were playing some really good defense.”
He creidted Lue and Kennard for the back-to-back triples and noted Morris’ dagger off-the-glass.
Em tempo: não pode a defesa do Lakers deixar 2 shooters livres no perímetro… pic.twitter.com/GwnGBlGBF5
— Coast To Coast Brasil🏀🇧🇷 (@brasilcoast2) December 4, 2021
“I thought pretty much we were on time and target with our defense,” LeBron opined. “But at the end of the day, better offense is gonna beat the best defense, no matter what.”
Marcus Morris banks in the dagger! 😳
Clippers hold off the Lakers for the win!pic.twitter.com/SSgaKSJriU
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) December 4, 2021
It didn’t help that the Lakers shot 13-of-21 from the line, while the Clippers hit 21-of-24 free throws.
“Getting over the hump” was not only a theme of this evening. Frank Vogel said the Lakers’ inability to finish the job was emblematic of their up-and-down ride in 2021-22.
“There were definitely opportunities where we were close to getting over the hump and didn’t make a play. And that’s just part of where we’re at with our season. We’re a team working to build cohesiveness and get over that hump.”
So, the Lakers (12-12) are back to .500 and their two-game winning streak is no longer. They’ll have three days off before a true rivalry game — against the Boston Celtics on Tuesday.