by Shreyan Gorantala
On the 26th of February, the battle of who ruled Los Angeles was on at the Crypto.com Arena (Los Angeles Lakers stadium) with the derby between the Los Angeles Clippers taking on home team Los Angeles Lakers, to see who really is the better side between the two.
The Clippers narrowly escaped last time edging a victory by 1 point with the scoreboard standing at 111 – 110 in favor of the Clippers. The Lakers coming back from the annual All-Star break, wanted to break their losing streak whilst seeking revenge at their home stadium and take over the Clippers to gain the 8th position in the Western conference to have a better chance to qualify for the playoffs. Another reason was to prove to the basketball world that the Lakers are back and will be a happy sight for all the Los Angeles Lakers fans.
The Clippers still missing Kawhi Leonard, their star player this entire season, and their second star Paul George, who suffered an ankle injury on December 6th, 2021, against Portland Trail Blazers, and was never seen entering the court ever since. The stars, however, were on the sidelines cheering with all their heart for their team to win, in hope of returning to the court come playoffs. The Lakers lineup looked promising, with superstars like Carmelo Anthony, Russell Westbrook, Anthony Davis, and Lebron James in their roster. Lebron James was on fire in the All-Star break and hit the game-winning shot for his side, for yet another all-star game victory. Both teams fighting for their place in the playoffs fought for their badge and fought to be the kings of Los Angeles.
With the pressure on both teams and with so much riding on the game, fans knew it would be a thriller, as the tip-off went to the Lakers to start the game off. The Lakers opened up the scoreboard with a fadeaway (a shot where the person leans back and goes away from the player) from Lebron James. Although this didn’t have much effect on the Clippers, keeping their eye on the prize, and still controlled the game. In the first quarter, the Clippers played their game and their style of play but the game was evenly matched by the home side, with the Lakers falling 2 points behind to end the first quarter.
The Clippers continued to play with intensity and with some sloppy plays from the home team, the Clippers capitalized on those moments and had a comfortable lead. The Lakers tried to come back, but the same aggression was shown throughout the second quarter, and finishing by a 10 point lead at halftime, made the Clippers the better side to win this rivalry. A huge part of this was from Terrance Mann who had taken up the role of Kawhi Leonard’s replacement and was leading the team every step of the way. Tyronne Lou (coach of the Los Angeles Clippers [LAC]), made a decision to rest Terrance Mann and made another promising player Reggie Jackson, continue where they left off. In the other team’s dressing room, the Lakers were disappointed in themselves, and without implementing any of their strategies or gameplan, they were bound to lose. It was Lebron James who stepped up and initiated the motivation for the team, and the entire team realized what was at stake.
After the halftime break, a different attitude and atmosphere were shown on the Laker’s shirts The Clippers hoped to continue the same aggression for the next 24 minutes, while the whistle blew and the Clippers started the play.
With the stakes, the Lakers rose up to the challenge and competed for every loose ball, every opportunity for any point, and put so much pressure on the away team that the momentum just broke into pieces. With 5 interceptions and blocks throughout the quarter, the momentum shifted sides, and as the third quarter drew to an end, the scoreline read a 6 point lead to the Lakers, with a dramatic comeback. But that wasn’t for long, as the Clippers showed emotion and Terrance Mann was back on to lead the Clippers for a victory. After back and forth baskets, the Clippers found a rhythm and started to gain and increase the lead to 9 points. The Lakers coach shouted and yelled out of frustration at the players, as the final minutes were coming to an end. This however was not the case, as, with a smart timeout, the Lakers took a breather and played their basketball again. Now with both teams, playing their way of basketball, with emotion, pride, and joy, the game took an interesting turn.
1 minute left! 3 point lead to the Clippers. WHO will win and be claimed as the kings of LA?? Back-to-back points from both teams led to a 1 point lead and the Clippers had the ball. 19 seconds to go as Marcus Morris Sr., who is a very good shooter, fired a shot whilst being guarded by Russell Westbrook. Sinking the shot in, he made 2 crucial baskets to possibly win the Clippers the game, and it did. Marcus’s shot was the game-changer. He did it once again by sinking a deep 3 to win the game in the previous encounter against the Lakers and hitting a crucial mid-ranged shot to get the victory. A beautiful sport, with a beautiful game, with two great teams. Although the Lakers didn’t win, the home side fans can’t wait on the 4th of March, and neither can the entire basketball crowd, as the Lakers will go to Staples Centre (LAC home ground), to fight back and this time win.