It was the battle of Los Angeles Thursday night as the Clippers took on the rival the Lakers at the Staples Center.
The Los Angeles Clippers have had their way with the baby Los Angeles Lakers for quite some time now. So, why on earth did we expect anything to change on Thursday night in the opening game for both teams this season?
For starters, this was game one of the Lonzo Ball era for the Lakers, and it was supposed to be the moment when the baby Lakers took steps toward becoming a grown-up team. That was not meant to be.
The new-look Clippers, with Blake Griffin now “the man” in Clipper Nation following the departure of Chris Paul, looked like the same team that has beaten up on their little brothers the past few seasons. So, what did we actually learn from this Clippers beatdown?
3. Blake Griffin is comfortable without Chris Paul
Yes, Chris Paul’s arrival in Clipper Nation turned this team from a perennial laugher into a legitimate contender, and Blake Griffin took a backseat on his own team.
Now that Paul has taken his talents to Houston, this is now Griffin’s team again, and he looks more comfortable in this role as the team’s go-to man.
Griffin was a dominating force for the Clippers all night long, and the Lakers had no idea how to stop him. There is a reason why many have penciled in the Clippers as a sleeper team in the West, and Griffin stepping up as the leading man is the primary reason why.
2. Don’t panic about Lonzo Ball (Yet)
Boy, did Lonzo Ball have one heck of an opening debut — and I don’t mean that in a good way.
Ball looked pretty timid all night long, scoring just three points on a woeful 1-for-6 from the field and dishing out just four assists. Ball did show some tenacity on the boards, though, snagging eight rebounds on the evening. The main problem with Ball Thursday was that he played it safe, too safe, and as the player that was talked up to be the best player in the league by his father, he must come out with more fire than he did in the opener.
Yes, Ball didn’t have the “magic effect” many thought he would have, but remember, it’s his first game. He has plenty of time to improve and show the basketball world he was worthy of being the second pick in the draft.
So don’t panic about Lonzo Ball, at least not yet, anyway.
1. The Baby Lakers have some growing up to do
There isn’t any doubt the Lakers are talented, and they’re only going to be better as the year progresses. But judging from their opening night performance, however, the Baby Lakers still have some more growing up to do.
The Lakers looked pretty much out of sync all night offensively, and their defense, which has been an ingrown toenail on the Lakers’ foot recently, still looks god-awful. Los Angeles wants to even have a remote chance to make the playoffs this year, they have to find some rhythm — any rhythm — on offense, and find some way to put a scare into opponents on the defensive end.
Some have pegged the Lakers as being a sleeper playoff team in the West, but after Thursday night’s rotten egg performance, this team isn’t playoff material.