The Battle of LA: Clippers Triumph over Lakers
The recent showdown in Los Angeles has just concluded, and unsurprisingly, the Lakers, missing LeBron James, fell to the Clippers. Despite the final score gap, the Lakers fought hard, particularly in the third quarter. Austin Reaves was repeatedly targeted, adding to his frustration, but he and the rest of the Lakers’ role players kept biting at the Clippers’ heels. Anthony Davis also managed to exploit the Clippers’ defense, making for an enthralling back-and-forth match.
Clippers’ Star Power Shines in the Second Half
The Clippers’ stacked roster of stars made a significant difference in the second half. Their isolation plays and ability to find weaknesses in the Lakers’ defense highlighted the sheer talent of their lineup. Kawhi Leonard, often needing a double-team, along with AD’s help on defense, opened up opportunities for others, with Norman Powell notably benefiting from this.
The Clippers’ Edge and Kawhi’s Milestone
Furthermore, Russell Westbrook’s accuracy from the three-point line punished the Lakers repeatedly. The score remained close, but the Clippers had a clear advantage. Kawhi, the Clippers’ most crucial player, not only scored a team-high 25 points but also racked up 10 assists. His teammates capitalized on his passes, especially with Ivica Zubac out injured, allowing Kawhi to secure enough rebounds to achieve his second career triple-double – a joyous occasion.
It wasn’t until 2020 that Kawhi achieved his first career triple-double, despite already holding two NBA Finals MVP trophies. This led many to humorously remark that achieving a triple-double was harder for him than winning a Finals MVP. Now, four years later, his number of triple-doubles has finally matched his Finals MVP count. It’s surprising how challenging triple-doubles have been for Kawhi, suggesting he doesn’t focus much on stats and is more dedicated to being a ‘closer’ – often successfully finishing plays despite defenses knowing what’s coming.
Kawhi’s Signature Style and a Nod to Triple-Double Giants
I appreciate this aspect of Kawhi’s game, knowing his shot is coming yet still being unable to stop it – that’s his true skill. Meanwhile, Russell Westbrook, with 211 career triple-doubles including playoffs, and James Harden, with 78, might jokingly wonder, “Is it really that hard, brother?