Kawhi, Clippers topple Lakers on NBA opening day
LOS ANGELES — Kawhi Leonard began a new chapter with the Los Angeles Clippers, scoring 30 points to go with a strong bench effort in a 112-102 victory over LeBron James and the Lakers on Tuesday night in the teams’ season opener.
Lou Williams added 21 points and Montrezl Harrell had 17 off the bench when the Clippers opened their 50th season and 36th in Los Angeles as the once unlikely but now favorites to win the franchise’s first NBA championship.
Leonard won his second NBA title last season in Toronto.
The Lakers showed off their new 1-2 punch of James and Anthony Davis. Davis scored 25 points, making 9 of 14 free throws, and James had 18. Danny Green outscored them both with 28 points.
Wearing a black tuxedo jacket and bow tie, George received a mixed reaction when introduced in the playoff-like atmosphere at Staples Center, where the Clippers were the home team for the first of four meetings in the arena the teams share.
The Clippers’ reserves outscored the Lakers’ bench, 60-19
It came down to the fourth quarter, and the Clippers dominated.
Tied 85-all, they opened with a 19-7 run to go up 104-92. Five different players scored and Leonard assisted on Maurice Harkless’ 3-pointer.
With 4 ½ minutes left, Lakers fans chanted “Let’s go, Lakers! Let’s go, Lakers!” while others hit the exits.
The Lakers erased a 14-point deficit in the third, led by Danny Green’s 18 points. He capped a 15-0 run with his fifth 3-pointer before JaMychal Green’s 3-pointer pulled the Clippers into an 85-all tie heading into the fourth.
The Clippers outscored the Lakers 40-29 in the second quarter, buoyed by 16 points from Leonard.
The Lakers raced to a 13-2 lead, their largest of the game. James scored over Leonard and he later heard “MVP! MVP!” chants while sinking his first free throws of the season.
The Lakers shot 53% from the floor in the first quarter, while the Clippers missed shots and had a basket by Williams taken away when the Lakers challenged a foul call on Dwight Howard.
The rivalry was on early with a male fan shouting “Go Lakers!” during the national anthem, drawing big cheers while Clipper fans booed.
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