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Lakers’ LeBron James downplays rivalry with Clippers following season-opening loss

LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, Lakers, Clippers

LOS ANGELES – The 2019-20 NBA season openers were as advertised on Tuesday night with an overtime thriller between the defending NBA champion Toronto Raptors and the upstart New Orleans Pelicans followed by a highly anticipated battle between the new-look Los Angeles Lakers and L.A. Clippers.

The matchup between the two heavyweights in Los Angeles didn’t disappoint. This game was widely perceived as a test for both teams who many believe will be legitimate title contenders in the Western Conference this season.

Unfortunately for the Lakers, the Clippers prevailed in a back-and-forth affair in which Kawhi Leonard showed his dominance, and a lot of flaws were exposed for the 16-time champions. However, LeBron doesn’t believe this game was a big test, nor is there much of a rivalry between these two teams at this point.

“I disagree on how big of a test,” LeBron said of the matchup with the Clippers. “It’s the first game. Obviously, the NBA is back, and that’s what everyone is trying to have the narrative of a rivalry game, and it’s a huge test. Both teams are not where they want to be.”

The Lakers retooled team with only a handful of players returning from last year’s squad. This team will take some time to come together as any team in this position with high expectations tends to do. LeBron believes this as the team moves forward and will try to learn from their mistakes in this loss to the Clippers.

“We have a lot of room to improve,” James said of this revamped Lakers squad. “We’re a new group that’s coming together. We have a new coaching staff. We have a new system. 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, and some not so good things and that happens in a Game 1, especially for a new club. We look forward to getting in the film room tomorrow and see some of the mistakes that we made and where we could’ve been better.”

On Friday, the Lakers will try to bounce back from this season-opening loss and correct the mistakes that were made on Tuesday as they’ll host the Utah Jazz. It will be the home opener for LeBron and company and another tough challenge against a team that could very well be a serious threat in the West after making some moves during the offseason.