The return of the King

LeBron was slow to wake up, but resolved with the winning shot. Anthony Davis went 34 points and Paul George ruled out for victory. Caruso, key.


The NBA is back and with it, LeBron James. The Lakers-Clippers was the highlight of the first day and has not disappointed. Stuck party, too much in some moments, resolved in the end by the angelina star, who took awakening but resolved in the clutch time, sentencing who will be his great rival, a priori, to reach the Finals. Los Angeles' not-so-bad brother will have to suffer a lot to win four of seven games in a shadow as long as they will have, if all goes well, facing a hypothetical final in the West. From the initial dominance of the Lakers, total equality was passed in the last period resolved by a man who seeks his final place in history with what would be his fourth ring, something that could catapult him, who knows, to the top of Olympus. basketball.

Of course, it is not the best game to draw conclusions, but it is clear that the dominance that the Clippers showed in the first two meetings with the Lakers (especially in the inaugural) has been replaced by two consecutive victories by their rivals. One, with an imperial LeBron, just before the break, in which it was the penultimate duel that both teams played before the positive of Rudy Gobert stopped the season and the fervor of the fans, who saw how everything was cut from the roots to just under a month after the playoffs began for the title. And another now, in a first day of restart that has had two exciting games. A Pelicans-Jazz resolved in the last moments and a Los Angeles derby that generated more interest by its protagonists and that has shown another heart attack ending.

The Lakers, without a Bradley who gave up going to Orlando and a Rondo that will take time to join, arrived with desire. As well as the Clippers, who let them show less and that everyone wonders if it will really be in the playoffs when they will show their true face. So far, they haven't shown much, but they haven't had their entire team at virtually any time of the season, either. Nor today, when they arrived without Montrezl Harrell or Lou Williams, quarantined as punishment for their escapade with strippers when they were supposed to have come out of the bubble for quite different reasons. Of course, it was soon noted that this was not a friendly and that the intention to win was quite different. The Lakers soon went ahead and came to have advantages of more than 10 points during the first half. In the initial period, two quick fouls by Kawhi in just five minutes suited him and the Clippers did not carbure: 0 of 7 in triples in 12 minutes in which up to 26 free throws were thrown, a trend that was repeated throughout a duel stuck and long, with many stops and many shots from the personal.

Anthony Davis shot up to 17, who scored 16 and went to 34 points, being the highest scorer of the game. He was in charge of reacting to the Lakers when things were worse, after the break, which they had reached with the Clippers closer than their game showed (54-52). A triple by Paul George as soon as the second half started gave the first advantage of the whole game to his family, who went 11 up, the maximum of the game, in a fourth start in which the purple and gold added 0 of 9 on field goals and 5 losses. By then, the game had had 40 fouls and 33 baskets, without ever letting the game flow and the referees being the protagonists continuously (for blowing the whistle too much, not for having errors). And with Noah and Howard milling around the track as if it wasn't with them. Combined, they added 2 points and 9 fouls with some embarrassment. They will have better days, for sure.

The Lakers recovered with a successful timeout by Frank Vogel and a 3-point base, with LeBron denied facing the rim (6 of 19 in shots at the end) but excellent in defense and serving as a distributor, with 5 assists only in the first period and 7 at the end of the game, although creating spaces for his teammates based on penetrations. This was taken advantage of by Davis, but also a Dion Waiters who finished with 11 points and became the microwave that the team expects it to be. The Lakers overcame the pothole and entered the final stretch 77-76 in a game that was not decided until the last play. They entered ahead in the last two minutes, but without sentencing, partly because of Paul George, who caught on with a formidable performance (30 + 5 + 3 + 3). A triple of his put the Clippers to a single point (99-98) at 1:26 to go, and another tied the clash at 101 with 28.7 seconds left. In between, a LeBron layup gave the Lakers air, and it would be the forward himself who would catch his own offensive rebound (with five opponents around) to give the Lakers the ultimate lead, 103-101. There were 12.8 seconds to go that the Clippers did not know how to take advantage of, and they made a bad move that ended with a desperate triple attempt by Paul George that did not enter. The player called for the foul, but the referees decided that they had already blown the whistle too much.

LeBron finished with 16 points, 11 rebounds and 7 assists, statistically worse than a Kawhi who went to 28 points but was left without scoring the last three minutes of the match. But the best news for El Rey is that the sensations are good and that Caruso, the man of the intangibles, is a perfect bodyguard for the defense of Frank Vogel, one of the best in the history of the franchise. The base went to 7 points, but he helped at all times on both sides of the track and stole a ball at the end, ultimately key to the interests of the Lakers, who are one victory away from mathematically securing first place in the West. for the first time in a decade. Since 2010, specifically, the year in which they ended up winning the ring. It seems very close and far away at the same time, but, later, the objective is the same again. The NBA is back. And LeBron, too.

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