Clippers Outlast Lakers in NBA Opening Night
The excitement was palpable outside Staples Center hours before tip-off announcing the return of the NBA season.
In case you've been living under a cave all summer, the NBA universe now orbits around Los Angeles, with the Clippers and Lakers the early preseason co-favorites to win the NBA title.
Kawhi Leonard scored 30 points in his highly-anticipated Clippers debut and L.A. defeated the Lakers, 112-102, in the first game of the NBA regular season on Tuesday night.
The game opened up similarly to how the offseason played out: The Lakers, the first team to make a big splash in the offseason when they traded for All-Star Anthony Davis, jumped out to a 13-2 lead to start the contest.
Clippers' head coach Doc Rivers immediately went to reigning Sixth Man of the Year, Lou Williams, and his other super sub, Montrezl Harrell, to stop the bleeding.
The moves worked as the Clippers began to chip away at the lead, and trailed only by thee at the end of the first quarter, 25-22.
Led by Leonard, the Clippers came roaring back in the second quarter, outscoring the Lakers, 40-29, for a 62-54 lead at halftime.
Danny Green hit seven three-pointers in the game, as the Lakers briefly took an 85-82 lead at the end of the third quarter. Green led the Lakers with a team-high 28 points.
Anthony Davis finished with 25 points, 10 rebounds, and two blocks in his Lakers debut. LeBron James nearly had a triple-double with 18 points, nine rebounds, and eight assists.
Leonard finished with a game-high 30 points in his Clippers debut, and Williams had 21 off the bench. Substitutes Mo Harkless and Montrezl Harrell combined for 27 points.
Paul George missed the game for the Clippers with a shoulder injury. Rajon Rondo and Kyle Kuzma did not suit up for the Lakers.China Controversy Takes Center State in Los Angeles
As fans walked past the statues of past legends Jerry West, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Shaquille O'Neal, a reminder of the league's current controversy was just steps away.
NBA's Opening Night blockbuster between the Lakers and Clippers was overshadowed by its current problem with China.
Outside Staples Center, pro Hong Kong protestors passed out t-shirts to fans reading: "Fight for freedom, Stand with Hong Kong."
The TNT broadcast also aired the Hong Kong flag in the background of their pregame show, and analyst Shaquille O'Neal said that Daryl Morey's tweet that was the catalyst for the controversy, was "right." A stance that I'm sure will only add fuel to the flames for the foreseeable future in the NBA and China debacle.Kawhi Leonard Welcomed to L.A. With Boos from 'Home' Crowd
The Los Angeles Lakers fans wanted to make a statement at Staples Center. Despite the fact that the court read "L.A. Clippers," Lakers Nation came out in full force to let the Clippers know that it's the Lake Show that still run L.A.
The Lakers-leaning crowd was more vocal and more energetic throughout the game, but none more evident than when newest Clipper Kawhi Leonard came out to greet the crowd before tip-off.
Leonard took the microphone at half-court to address the sellout crowd at Staples Center and was promptly booed by the Lakers fans who came to crash the Clippers home game.
Lakers' fans continued to boo Leonard throughout the game, including at the free throw line, but the silver lining for Leonard is this will only happen three other times this year.
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