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Lakers vs. Clippers Takeaways: LeBron Leads Crunch Time Win

Lakers vs Clippers: The Lakers and Clippers had already fought three heavyweight fights on Thursday but Round 4 was the nearest yet. In the first quarter the Lakers opened a 13-point lead but the Clippers fought back to create their own advantage. Anthony Davis owned the third quarter and ended his own with 34 points, but LeBron James owned the night. While battling his way to shooting 6-of-19, James hit the game-winning runner after he rebounded his own miss. He then continued to protect Kawhi Leonard well enough to force a pass on the final play, and then turned on Paul George to challenge his game-winning attempt. As the last buzzer rang, Lakers were 103-101.

Lakers vs. Clippers Takeaways: LeBron Leads Crunch Time Win

The Western Conference ‘s two strongest teams have now met four times, and have divided the matchups 2-2. In those matchups the Clippers outscored the Lakers by just four points. Both teams are as competitive as it happens and now that their regular-season fights are in the books they have a few months to prepare for what will be an imminent match for the Western Conference finals. Here are the most important takeaways of tonight’s game ahead of the expected series of playoffs.

LeBron ‘s defense was dramatic

In the fourth quarter, Kawhi Leonard only tried two field goals , making one of them. Most of that was due to LeBron. After three difficult matches against Kawhi in the pre-bubble season, in this game, LeBron eventually got the best of him on defence. The final possession of the game began with James on Leonard, and finished with James switching to Paul George to challenge his failed effort to win the game.

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Lakers vs Clippers: LeBron ‘s defense this season has been stronger. Gone are the days when his ambition is fading, and lowlight videos are being made to ridicule him. Yet most of the season he spent off the court, protecting minor threats and concentrating mainly on support defense. After Miami this iteration of LeBron, the supreme predator capable of self-devouring rival stars, has been missing. If this defense quality still lies inside LeBron, it will change the entire playoff scenario.

LeBron wasn’t insulted

Forgotten in the hoopla of finishing the game was all it took to get there. LeBron had fired from the field 6-of-19. Which puts him up against the Clippers to 29-of-79, a meager 36.7 percent from the floor. His game-winner also came off his own miss as a rebound. We now have four games of evidence that show LeBron is battling the safety of the Clipper. He just can’t be blamed for that. Kawhi Leonard and Paul George are among the best defensive wing duos ever.

Lakers vs Clippers: Yet without LeBron scoring the Lakers are not beating the Clippers four times in seven attempts. If this means going small early, chasing particular matchups or changing their own rotations in any other way is unclear, but before the Western Conference finals, the Lakers need to fix this problem.

Dion Waiters is for real

Forget a second about the individual numbers. Dion Waiters has the highest net rating in the bubble, which is so unacceptable at the trade deadline that he was waived despite only one year left on his contract. With Waiters on the court, the Lakers outscored the Clippers by an amazing 17 points. Given that he was replacing nominally Rajon Rondo, the Laker with the worst on / off statistics, that ‘s extremely inspiring. The Lakers seem to have stumbled upon a genuine second-unit builder and it came in the form of a player who, after taking too many gummies, pushed a team plane into an early landing, less than a year ago. What sort of a world we live in.

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Doc Rivers again bungles the spin

If any decision could be blamed for the loss of their March match with the Lakers by the Clippers, it would be the decision of Rivers to leave Lou Williams in crunch time on the court. LeBron hunted nearly every possession on switches for him and the result was an offense enough to drive the Lakers over the top.

Lakers vs Clippers: Quick into tonight. The Clippers outscored the Lakers with Kawhi Leonard on the court by 16 points, and played neutrally with Paul George. The Clippers had no other offensive producer with Williams and Montrezl Harrell out so it was necessary to combine their two stars. But in the third quarter, in four minutes and 21 seconds … The Clippers have played on the bench with all their players. A four-point lead grew into a one-point deficit. With just two points being the final difference, the stretch undoubtedly cost the game to the Clippers.

Zubac has roles, and if the Clippers run into the Nuggets or 76ers in the playoffs, they will likely be necessary. Yet, in a high-level matchup against more agile big men, he is not mobile enough to stay on the court. In the first round a year ago the Warriors made him useless. Looks like the Lakers did the same. In the first three matchups, Montrezl Harrell mostly monopolized minutes at the centre. He’ll probably do the same in the playoffs.

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