Over the last 11 seasons, the Los Angeles Clippers had owned the Los Angeles Lakers in head-to-head matchups. The former had defeated the latter in 39 of their last 46 games against each other, and Clippers fans were bragging that their team had taken over the Southland.
The two squads met again on Wednesday, and early on, it looked as if the Clippers’ recent dominance would continue.
The Lakers fell way behind early on a barrage of 3-point shots by the Clippers, who shot 5-of-9 from that distance and 16-of-23 overall in the first quarter. They fell behind by 19 late in the period before hitting back-to-back treys to end it. However, the team wasn’t able to gain any ground in the second quarter and ended the half down 13. Los Angeles contributed to its own problems by committing 12 turnovers in the first two periods.
But the Purple and Gold finally found their game late in the third quarter, going on a 21-7 run to end the period up by two. That run was fueled by some spirited defense, which helped supply them with easy baskets in transition and early offense. They then surged ahead by as many as nine in the final frame. However, the Clippers answered with a flurry to force overtime after they trailed by eight with less than two minutes remaining.
In overtime, the Lakers simply had more left in the tank, as they survived for a thrilling 130-125 win. They are 3-2, and perhaps this game will be looked back on as the one that started to get them going after a sluggish start.
Anthony Davis: A
Yet again, Anthony Davis played the way people expect him to on a consistent basis. He scored 27 points on 10-of-18 shooting and 7-of-9 from the free-throw line, grabbed 10 rebounds, blocked four shots and added three assists and one steal.
After a poor showing in the second half of the Lakers’ season opener versus the Denver Nuggets last week, Davis has been simply dominant in his last four games.
Cam Reddish: B
Reddish shot 2-of-7 overall and 1-of-5 from 3-point range, but on this night, his offense didn’t matter that much.
Rather, it was his defense that may have been the X-factor in this victory. He was in the starting lineup instead of Taurean Prince, who went to the locker room just before the tip due to knee soreness. Prince didn’t play, so Reddish played 37 minutes.
In those minutes, he made a major impact on the defensive end. He had an early steal and layup, and he later came over as a help defender and forced an up-and-down traveling violation on Kawhi Leonard. Early in the third quarter, he produced a steal that led to a fast-break layup by D’Angelo Russell that brought L.A. within nine.
Offensively, he almost provided a highlight play when he tried to dunk on Ivica Zubac in the fourth quarter. Although missed the dunk when he was fouled, he made both ensuing free throws.
Reddish finished with eight points, four rebounds, four assists, three steals and one blocked shot, but his impact went beyond those numbers.
Austin Reaves: B-minus/B
Reaves came into this game shooting just 33.3% from the field and 25% from beyond the arc to start the season. He struggled offensively for much of this game, but he got going a little bit late, starting when he broke Norman Powell’s ankles and hit a jumper to help bolster the Lakers’ late third-quarter rally.
After halftime, he shot 4-of-8, and he had a big 3-point play with 3:37 left in overtime to put the Lakers up for good. A few moments later, his steal and alley-oop pass to LeBron James for a dunk helped seal the win.
Reaves finished with 15 points, seven rebounds, seven assists and three steals. It was the type of performance that may help him start playing well again.
D'Angelo Russell: A
For the second straight game, Russell’s game, especially offensively, was on point. He had 28 points and eight assists in Monday’s win over the Orlando Magic, and he followed that up with another excellent performance versus the Clippers.
Russell shot 3-of-9 in the first half, but he had three layups to start the third quarter by moving without the ball and getting open near the rim. It seemed to get his whole game going, as he shot 7-of-10 and scored 19 points in the second half.
Overall, he had 27 points and six assists, and he was one of the main figures in the Lakers’ second-half comeback that made this win possible.
LeBron James: A
This was a vintage performance by the 38-year-old James. He scored 35 points on 13-of-19 overall shooting and 4-of-8 from 3-point range, and he also contributed 12 rebounds, seven assists, two blocked shots and one assist.
He started slowly in the first quarter, but he heated up in the second period with 15 points to prevent his team from falling behind further. He added 14 points and four assists in the fourth quarter and overtime combined.
James’ intensity and aggressiveness helped his team score 23 fast-break points, which was a major factor in its comeback.
Although he played 42 minutes, it may not matter much, given the Lakers will not play again until Saturday.
Christian Wood: A
In 29 minutes, Wood scored 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting from the field and 2-of-4 from downtown, and he also grabbed 11 rebounds. Thanks to him, the Lakers outrebounded the Clippers by five, stopping a troubling trend that had continued from the prior two seasons.
It is starting to look like Wood is also taking pride in playing effective defense. He blocked a shot and had a steal, and he helped make Leonard and Paul George work for their points. Although both scored well over 30 points, it wasn’t easy for them after halftime.
Jaxson Hayes: B
Hayes made a contribution in 14 minutes, especially defensively and on the boards. He had a blocked shot, three points, two rebounds and an assist, and he was fairly active overall.
Max Christie: C-minus
With Prince, Jarred Vanderbilt and Gabe Vincent out, Christie played 22 minutes on Wednesday. He was 1-of-7 overall and 1-of-5 from downtown, but his effort was good, which allowed him to grab three rebounds.