The reputation of Paul George, who came out of the bubble last year, has been shaken. He was overwhelmed by difficult circumstances and failed to make the play-offs. All this has helped the Los Angeles Clippers start this season with questions and concerns, although there was no doubt that George would be part of the team’s future after signing a long-term contract extension.
On Tuesday night, George showed that he is still one of the best players in the NBA. He led the Clippers to a 116-109 victory over the Lakers, scoring 33 points as he fired 13 of the 18 set pieces. The show took place one evening when the Lakers were collecting championship rings. Both teams again have title ambitions this season.
I took the pictures when they were available, George said in a post-game TV interview. I didn’t do that.
The Clippers lead by no less than 22 points at halftime and are tied up with the Lakers in the third quarter before imposing their will in the dying moments of the game to ensure victory. They also benefited from a solid performance by Kawhi Leonard, who scored 26 points. LeBron James scored 22 points for the Lakers and Anthony Davis finished with 18 points.
It was a competitive game – and a relief for the crowd that remained after the Nets started the new season with a 125-99 loss to the Golden State Warriors.
That’s how the Nets beat the Warriors and the Clippers beat the Lakers.
This is a meeting between Durant and Curry.
Kevin Durant (left) and Stephen Curry (right) won two championships with the Golden State Warriors. Credit…Sarah Senior/Getty Images
The opening night will not only be a welcome return to court for Kevin Durant. His teammate Stephen Curry, with whom Durant has won two championships, will also play. Curry, who has won the prize for best player twice, missed 60 games last season due to a broken left hand.
For the first time since 2016, Curry and Durant will compete against each other. After this season, Durant has shocked the basketball world by joining Curry in Golden State and forming one of the most talented collaborations in the history of the league.
You’re always impressed by what he can do on the ground, Curry told reporters this week, add: That’s a big part of our success: We feed on each other’s energy and desire to do great things every day. If you see him up close, you have no choice but to see him every day.
For his part, Durant does not occupy a special position in Tuesday night’s game, even though it is against his former team.
Playing against former teammates, Durant told reporters this week. I’ve always felt on this level, no matter who’s up there. I feel like every game is important to me.
Q1: Kevin Durant ready for action.
It’s a beautiful show. Kevin Durant fired four of his first five shots. Impressive, his four digits were different. One was a runner, the other a 3-point, a jumper who also sent him to the line, and finally a base-dunk. He scored eight points in the first three minutes of the game. It was an impressive start that gave the Nets a two-digit lead (18-8). Kyrie Irving beat two out of three for five points.
Nervousness and fear of Steve Nash in his coaching debut.
Prior to his first regular season game as an NBA head coach, Steve Nash told reporters that Kevin Durant looked just like he did before his injury, but that he also needed some time to get used to competitive basketball.
All I’ll say about that is that he’s done everything he could and is in a perfect position to get back from this injury,” said Nash van Durant, who tore his right Achilles tendon in the 2019 N.B.A. finals that kept him out of action all season last season.
As for his coaching debut – Nash’s first direct NBA game since he retired as a player in 2015 – Nash said there was a different pace on game day, but similar nerves and anxiety to when he was a player.
I was always a little nervous until I warmed up before the game. So I’m feeling it a little tonight, and that’s probably a good thing, Nash.
End of first quarter: Warriors fighting.
The Nets took a 40-19 lead in the first quarter and the Warriors seemed to hold on to the attack before the Nets closed the first quarter with a 40-25 lead. Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving dominated with a total of 27 points on 10 of the 15 shots. Joe Harris also scored six points and hit a couple of threes.
Kelly Oubre, the latest addition to the Warriors, made a dunk at the edge of the field and Stephen Curry scored 9 points on 3 of the 7 shots to keep the Warriors afloat, but Golden State struggled to make quality offensive balls.
I hope the Warriors come back.
I’m not ready to say goodbye to the Golden State Warriors yet.
I long for the sparkle of Steph Curry, the rumbling of Draymond Green, beautiful basketball, absolute dominance. I’m afraid we’ll never see it again – at least not at the level we once had.
Klay Thompson’s torn Achilles tendon probably means a second, upright defeat and possibly a fatal blow to the Warriors’ hopes of rebirth. And that’s what I’m really wondering.
I don’t miss the Warriors as a fan (despite my San Jose roots). It’s not just that I’m going to miss writing about their tour (even though it’s true, of course). It’s much more personal.
The Warriors offered their fans endless basketball fun – deep 3s, shimmies and raw stops. For others, they have become the norm of selfless play and joyful mastery. They defined the era and redefined the formula for building a great team.
But they gave me something much more precious: the last few hours with my father. I didn’t know it then.
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2. Quarter: Caris LeVert is the key to the grid bank.
It’s just a game. But Andrew Wiggins, who now has to fill the void created by the absence of Klay Thompson, had a difficult start to the game. He started at 1 to 8 and missed several open jumps.
Carys LeVert, on the other hand, blossomed early on in his role as sixth man in the net. He has 12 points on 7 shots, 3 rebounds and a pass and gives a spark on the bench while Durant and Irving sit down. The ability of the lever to maintain the attack while the star duo of the Nets are on break will be crucial as the season progresses.
Accompanying note : TNT’s audio doesn’t seem to be in sync with the video. I just heard the sound of a missed jumper a few seconds after the bullet hit the edge of the screen. You see, it’s not just the players who get in shape.
Break: Kyrie Irving leads the team with 24 points.
The attack of the Nets continued with a 63-45 lead in the first half. Kyrie Irving remains at her best, scoring 24 points on 13 pitches and hitting a couple of jump shots that stop the momentum and prevent the Warriors from fleeing. Kevin Durant had 12 points on 11 shots. Caris LeVert finished the half with 12 points.
To Golden State, every point seemed like a struggle. Stephen Curry led all the scorers by 16 points, but he made only 15 shots. He also had five assistants. Andrew Wiggins shot 2-10 for eight points. The Nets were faster and more aggressive and kept the game largely uncompetitive. Their defense was also effective in preventing the warriors from getting indisputable fire.
A potential red flag for the network: They only had 10 presences at 13 turnovers. They win because of the isolation of basketball. But who can complain if it works?
Silver: Others need the vaccine much more than N.B.A. players
Commissioner Adam Silver confirmed in a pre-game interview about TNT that he thinks NBA players should not be vaccinated now because he does not want players to favour more vulnerable populations.
While there is no doubt that our players can do their part at the right time, and if it is in some cases within the African-American community, when it comes to showing young people that it is safe to get the vaccine, if our players feel that way, I think just right now, because there are limited doses and there is another group of people who need it much more than healthy young people, we have to wait, Silver said.
But in the end, we will follow what the health authorities tell us to do. I know that we have already had some conversations with health officials who have suggested that our actors could play a role to show the public that vaccinations are safe.
3. Quarter: Yay.
So this is Kevin Durant:
And that’s what warriors do:
Q3: The 3 points fall only on nets.
It’s gotten ugly here in Brooklyn (depending on your point of view). Les Nets reduced its lead to 31 in the third quarter. The Warriors fire only 5 of 21 from a distance, while the Nets fire 10 of 22. It was actually a ball game. Durant now has 16 points and Irving 26.
End of third quarter: It can be a package.
The game turned into a snail shell… It was another chance to come in the last quarter, as the Nets beat the Warriors by 10 points in the third quarter, giving them a 99-71 lead. We’ve got all the lights here, so we found one for Golden State: Stephen Curry has 10 assistants. So here’s the problem.
What else? The Warriors shoot 24% of their shots out of 3 and have only two double-digit players. Andrew Wiggins shoots a great 4-14 out of the field for 13 points. For the Nets, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving have combined 48 points and are not allowed to play tonight. Caris LeVert had 16 points, Joe Harris had 10 and DeAndre Jordan had 10 rebounds.
4. Quarter: The roller coaster debut of Warriors recruits James Wiseman.
James Wiseman, drafted by the Warriors in November, made his NBA debut after coach Steve Kerr placed him in the starting line-up. So far Wiseman has 10 points and 6 rebounds on 3 of the 8 shots after 17 minutes. The 19-year-old seemed to run the ball well, but sometimes he struggled to finish under the basket and on the defensive line.
The nets beat the Warriors 125-99.
Steve Nash earned his first victory as N.B.A. head coach. He dominated when the Nets at home defeated the Golden State Warriors 125-99. The collaboration between Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant started quickly: Irving scored 26 points and Durant added 22, both in 25 minutes. None of them played in the fourth quarter. But during the 48 minutes, the Nets looked like they were going for the championship for billing. The nets were particularly accurate from the circumference and touched 15-35 places from the depth (43%). Carys LeVert, who came off the bench, scored 20 points and took nine rebounds.
Golden State, missing Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, struggled vigorously at both ends of the floor. Offensively, the Warriors seemed unwilling to score, even though they threw a basketball into space from the International Space Station. They have fired 10 to 33 times out of three (30%). Stephen Curry, who missed most of last season, seemed to be surpassed and scored 20 points on 21 shots. However, he had 10 presences. Curry didn’t get much help from his teammates. Andrew Wiggins, taken over by the Warriors last season, shot 4-16 from the field for 13 points. James Wiseman, the proclaimed rookie, made a strong start with 19 points and six rebounds, but most of his production came in the fourth quarter when the outcome was no longer in doubt.
Drama for the Clippers. New jobs for the Lakers.
Somehow it looks like Kawhi Leonard joined the Clippers a million years ago. It wasn’t until the summer of 2019 that the Clippers signed Leonard and traded him for Paul George, a revolutionary punch that changed the franchise.
But some of the intrigues behind this summer breakthrough came to light recently when Johnny Wilkes, a man who claims to be a confidant of the Leonard family, accused Jerry West, one of the team’s managers, of not keeping his promise to pay him to bring Leonard to the Clippers.
After Wilkes, who played basketball with Leonard’s uncle, Dennis Robertson, in high school, filed a complaint, the NBA opened an investigation. The Clippers denied any violation and called Wilks’ accusations unfounded. Leonard told the reporters that Wilks had nothing to do with his decision to sign with the Clippers.
Leonard was never considered one of the most charismatic stars in the NBA, but his short stint with the Clippers was not without drama. Also in the background: his contractual situation. This week, Leonard offered to give up his player option for next season, which means he will become a free agent.
In the meantime, things come together in Lakerland: LeBron James and Anthony Davis entered into new long-term contracts during the off-season.
Lakers get championship rings.
Before the Lakers went to the field for the ceremony without the championship ring, coach Frank Vogel thought about how the team’s title still seemed surreal to him.
I don’t know if you care. He told the reporters before the game. That’s what you dream about. That’s what you’ve been working on your whole career. I’m just happy for my family who sacrificed so much to get these opportunities. Congratulations to the competition for closing the season and creating a sparkling environment.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic and the massive power outage it caused, Vogel said he only occasionally got a sense of what the championship means to fans in Southern California. But every time he goes shopping or comes to TARGET, someone thanks him for what the team was able to do, he says.
The ring ceremony itself, even without fans in the arena, was surprisingly moving. In recorded video presentations, the players’ families congratulated them one by one before they left to pick up their rings. Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks, whose younger brother Costas signed a bilateral contract with the Lakers last season, was even invited.
And as a nice gesture, the front line paramedics presented rings to the assistant coaches of the team.
Q1: Ibaka and Batum make themselves felt very early.
The false crowd noise, which for this expert seems static, gave the Clippers a 16-5 lead. Maybe the Lakers are still recovering from the ring ceremony. Or maybe the Clippers are showing the importance of their two biggest off-season acquisitions: Serge Ibaka and Nicolas Batum, who together for 11 points.
The Lakers have drawn more attention to a hectic off-season – the Lakers had Dennis Schroeder finish in sixth place with the Oklahoma City Thunder in their starting line-up last season – but Ibaka and Batum are long and cunning veterans who can hit three points and take space, which is no small advantage in the NBA.
End of first quarter: The Clippers look good at first.
It’s a Nets-like start to the game for the Clippers, who are 39-19 points ahead after the first quarter and are very well balanced offensive. Eight players scored, including all five. And their defense involves all sorts of problems, forcing the Lakers to drive five laps around the track.
Note that the Lakers and the Clippers met in last season’s opening game, and that the Clippers won that game quite easily. Of course, the Lakers have won everything. The point is: One game, especially in the opening game of the season, doesn’t mean much. But the Clippers show consistency, at least for a quarter, after sinking into darkness a few months earlier – and after being confronted with many questions about chemistry in the off-season.
2. Quarter: Languages Horton Tucker takes a shot.
Languages Horton-Tucker drew with the Lakers, who defeated the Clippers, and LeBron James thinks the 20-year-old guard could be a star. James remembers seeing one of Horton Tucker’s high school games on TV a few years ago and calling his agent: You have to look at this man, James told him.
A year ago, as a teenager, Horton Tucker played sparingly for the Lakers in the second round of the Iowa State draft – and the youngest player on the list. But he made a breakthrough in the preseason with 33 points, 10 rebounds and four assists against the Clippers earlier this month. He sees himself as part of the rotation going forward.
You see what he’s doing now, James. It’s getting better and better.
Break: Lakers fight back, luckily.
After five quarters of one-way basketball tonight it is fun to finally play a game that has been played. The Lakers almost came back at halftime with a score of 56-54 after a 22-point deficit. Anthony Davis and LeBron James (who else?) have 10 points for the Lakers. They also got a nice spark from Dennis Schroeder, who has nine.
In the last minute before halftime, Lakers coach Frank Vogel managed to get James to play up to three points – a great game for him.
Kawhi Leonard fought for the Clippers, firing 4 out of 13 shots from the field.
3. Quarter: A joke about… ?
The viewers will see Luke Kennard for the first time as a member of the Clippers. Kennard, a 24-year-old winger who scored two points in 10 minutes from the bench on a quiet night, spent the first three years of his career with the Detroit Pistons until the Clippers picked him up in a three-team trade in the off-season.
It’s been an eventful week for Kennard. Kennard and the Clippers agreed Monday to the terms of a new four-year contract that could be worth as much as $64 million, according to multiple reports. Last season with the Pistons, Kennard averaged 15.8 points per game and shot 39.9 percent by three points.
Nowadays, guards of weapons are paid. Take Joe Harris from the Nets, who recently signed a $75 million, four-year contract.
Someone apparently amused by Kennard’s new contract? Show me Harrell, who tweeted some ridiculous emoji with a short message: All right! After the report. Harrell, the sixth man of the league, spent the last three seasons with the Clippers before signing with the Lakers in November two years and $19 million. Today he scored 12 points and six rebounds at the end of the third quarter.
End of third quarter: Give Paul George the honour to which he is entitled.
After the Lakers were even again, the Clippers increased the defensive pressure – again. It allowed Paul George, who helped the Clippers take an 89-78 lead in the fourth quarter. George, who was scolded for his problems after the season, scored 22 points on nine of the field’s twelve shots. Leonard is also 22 years old.
LeBron James tried to impose his will in the third quarter (see his previous dunk) and has 18 points. But the Lakers seem to have spent a lot of energy coming back from that big deficit.