Last night’s victory over city rivals, the Los Angeles Clippers, was certainly not one for the faint-hearted. With the Lakers blowing a 14-point fourth-quarter lead, to take victory in overtime, 123-120. We also saw the welcomed return of LeBron James from a 17-game absence, who recorded 24 points, 14 rebounds, 9 assists, in the win.
The first quarter was heavily contested, as expected from two teams fighting for post-season honours. The Lakers were hot from three-point land early on to close out the quarter with a six-point lead. As the match progressed, it became evidently clear that fatigue was kicking in for James, after 5-weeks on the sidelines. Careless turnovers caused a second-quarter slump in which ex-Laker Lou Williams took full advantage, as Lou Williams does. Causing the Clippers to bridge the gap in the scoreline to 54-53 going into the half.
Up step the king. LeBron James grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck in the second half. Doing work in the post, we were treated to a few of James’ iconic fade-aways. The Lakers were rampant, tallying up a 14-point lead in what seemed like a certain victory. However, it was not meant to be, Lou Williams (again) and Patrick Beverley provided some key plays down the stretch as the Clippers attempted a late comeback.
A comeback that was complete when Tobias Harris knocked down a vital three-pointer to tie the scores at 118 and take the game into overtime. Who other than LeBron James started the scoring in the final frame, before Lance Stephenson stamped his authority on the game, driving to the hoop nailing a floater. Lance initiated contact from 7-foot-3 Boban Marjanovic for a three-point play, he completed this from the free-throw line to keep the Lakers ahead 123-118 for the victory.
The Lakers recorded their 27th victory of the season, to go within 1 game of #8 in the Western Conference, of whom the Clippers current occupy. Make them dance Lance (Stephenson) knocked down 5 three-pointers in an impressive shooting night, scoring 20 points. Rajon Rondo scored down 14 points, adding 13 rebounds and 7 assists.
The Clippers had an off-night, shooting just 44% from the field and 32% from three. On the other hand, the Lakers nailed 45% of their field goals and an impressive 42% from beyond the arc. A negative was the 16 turnovers that the Lakers committed, something that we have seen way too much of this season.
LeBron James saw a surprising 40 minutes of action in his return from injury, who stated that he was not feeling particularly great after the game. We will have to keep an eye on this one and hope that his body reacts positively, as the Golden State Warriors await next.
By Kwadwo ‘Kojo’ Larson (@kwadwo_l)