With the Los Angeles Lakers defeating the Los Angeles Clippers by a score of 103-101, let's check out some of my coaching take aways from the prime time matchup.
In the Clippers first matchup of the resumed season, Paul George was definitely one of the top players on the floor. While it may seem like Paul George does get the respect he deserves, there is clearly less talk about him compared to other players. Attracting five personal fouls in a game and still leading your team in points is something that not many NBA players can do. Shooting 6-11 from beyond on a 65% field goal shooting night clearly demonstrates just how much of a star the guard is. If the Clippers never ended up in foul trouble, this game could have definitely gone in the opposite direction.
The veteran's ability to change posture is a factor that makes him tough to guard. His ability to have control of the ball while staying down low makes it difficult for the opposition to cause turnovers. However, once "PG" rises up for a shot, his quickness and athleticism allows him to get buckets at ease.
Fans watching the game could get the feeling that there was no way LeBron James was letting the Clippers win. While the Lakers star put up a quiet 16 points and 11 rebounds, it was evident that James was locked in at the end of the game.
The Lakers, were gifted the ball with 28 seconds left with the match being tied 101-101. It may be clear to the casual fan that LeBron James hit the game winning shot, but most people might not pick up just what he had to do to clinch the victory. With his floater outside of the paint coming up just short, it looked like the game was in the Clippers' hands. However, with James's veteran awareness, he was able to grab the offensive rebound with all five Clippers players in the paint. With the rest of his teammates spread out in a four-out offense, it would have been easy to just kick it out to either of his sharp shooting teammates for the clutch three; however it was clear James had other plans.
What could arguably be one of the best defensive plays of his career was the forward's ability to lock up at the end of the game. When starting off the final Clippers possession guarding Kawhi Leonard, teammate Paul George v-cutted Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, allowing Kawhi Leonard to kick it out. James had to make a quick switch and immediately sat (played tight defense) on George. Forcing the Clippers guard sideline-baseline made it difficult to get off the shot he wanted. Keeping his eyes locked in on the ball and his hands off of George, there was very little risk of a potential foul or game winner
If LeBron James keeps up the intensity throughout the remainder of the season there is no doubt that another championship will be brought back to the city of L.A. and it's not the Clippers.