Clippers Spoil Lakers' Ring Night
The Los Angeles Lakers collected their championship rings on opening night.
They didn't collect a victory.
The Los Angeles Clippers defeated the crosstown rival Lakers, 116-109, in what felt like Déjà Vu from the Clippers' opening night win over the Lakers last season.
Here are the key takeaways from Tuesday's battle of LA.
1. Paul George plays spoiler
The main reason why the Lakers weren't able to begin their title defense with a win came in the form of one person.
And it wasn't Kawhi Leonard.
Paul George – the Clippers' other superstar – lit up the Lakers, shooting 10-of-12 from the field in the second half, and dousing each of the Lakers' comeback attempts in the final two quarters.
The Lakers were able to erase a 22-point first half deficit and tie the contest in the third quarter before George took over down the stretch, scoring 11 points in the final frame.
After a disappointing exit to the 2020 playoffs – blowing a 3-1 series lead in the Western Conference semifinals – the Clippers weren't desperate for an opening night win, but it surely will serve as a positive start in a season of redemption, specifically for George, who struggled in the postseason.
And after he received a supermax extension this offseason – which some who aren't convinced of George's championship mettle saw as a questionable decision for the Clippers – PG-13 reminded fans and pundits of his otherwordly abilities.
2. A second dynamic duo?
The Lakers only got 40 combined points from superstars LeBron James (22) and Anthony Davis (18), but there were other positives in Tuesday's loss, in the form of newly-acquired guard Dennis Schroder and forward Montrezl Harrell.
Harrell, the reigning Sixth Man of the Year, scored 17 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in his Lakers debut, while Schroder, the reigning Sixth Man of the Year runner-up, recorded 14 points, 12 rebounds, and eight assists.
Schroder started alongside James and Davis, but had clear chemistry with Harrell after the big man came off the bench.
It's hard to imagine many nights where James and Davis only combine for 40 points, and as their production increases throughout the season, the play of Harrell and Schroder could eventually make the Lakers even more potent offensively than last season.
3. Ring night
There were no fans in the arena for the Lakers, but there was still a celebration.
The defending champs opened up the season with their ring ceremony, finally seeing the rewards of winning the ultimate prize a little over two months ago.
It's the start of a new season, but there is always room to reflect on the past, and that's what nine returning players from the Lakers' championship team were able to do before tip-off, as friends and family members congratulated the team in a video montage.
And they also got a special shout out from Snoop Dogg.