Despite changes to the roster in the offseason, the Clippers are still the team to beat in Los Angeles.
Blake Griffin had 29 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Los Angeles Clippers to a 108-92 win over the Los Angeles Lakers in the season-opening battle between inner-city rivals.
Lonzo Ball didn't have the NBA debut he hoped for, finishing with three points, four assists and nine rebounds in the loss.
It was hard for him going against one of the better perimeter defenders in the NBA, Patrick Beverley, who had an interesting strategy according to Stephen A. Smith of ESPN:
Stephen A Smith @stephenasmith
The plan, according to Patrick Beverly: Get in Lonzo's Ass2017-10-20 02:46:48
Beverley was physical all game and tied for a team-best plus-20 on the court, helping hold Ball to 1-of-6 shooting.
Griffin was the star of the day while filling up the box score in a lot of ways. In addition to his scoring, he had three assists, two steals and was 3-of-6 from three-point range.
It was a great sign going forward for the Clippers:
Sam Vecenie @Sam_Vecenie
If tonight is any indication, we’re about to get a ridiculous awesome Blake Griffin year, and I’m 100% here for it.2017-10-20 03:41:25
Josh Martin @JoshMartinNBA
Blake looks awesome so far tonight. Clippers will need a whole lotta that to hang in the West this season2017-10-20 03:40:17
Not to be outdone, DeAndre Jordan was a force inside with 15 points and 24 rebounds to help complete the blowout.
Both teams were pumped up for the first game of the year, and it showed with some huge dunks right off the bat:
NBA on TNT @NBAonTNT
Some big time 🔨's in that 1st quarter 👀 https://t.co/IsJu7WUvaj2017-10-20 03:22:16
The Clippers were in better control, making their shots while building an eight-point lead after the first quarter. The solid play continued toward a 53-42 lead at halftime behind the play of their two star big men.
Griffin had 18 points in the first half, and Jordan dominated inside with 16 rebounds.
While replacing Chris Paul will be an issue this year, Griffin even took on some point guard duties with this fast break:
Point Blake. #ItTakesEverything 📺: @NBAonTNT https://t.co/poIm2JC9tl2017-10-20 03:39:05
The Lakers simply couldn't keep up as the game progressed, struggling on both ends of the court while getting outscored by 13 points in the third quarter.
There wasn't much to be excited about offensively:
Andy Glockner @AndyGlockner
The Lakers' offense is a sinkhole2017-10-20 04:27:05
Colin Cowherd @ColinCowherd
I'll take the under on the Lakers. Regardless of the number.2017-10-20 04:28:31
eric sondheimer @latsondheimer
Great Clippers defense. Poor shooting from Brandon Ingram. Lots of one on one on offense. Not a good night for the Lakers.2017-10-20 04:31:20
The squad struggled with its shooting with Brandon Ingram especially disappointing with 12 points on 3-of-15 from the field. Brook Lopez at least came through with 20 points in his Lakers debut.
The lead ballooned to 30 in the fourth quarter before the Clippers were able to close out a 16-point win.
There was a lot of hype coming into the game for Ball, the second overall pick in the 2017 draft. However, the offensive prowess wasn't easily seen early on as it took late into the second quarter for him to get his first points of the game.
This three-pointer ended up being his only points:
Los Angeles Lakers @Lakers
Lonzo Ball connects from distance for his first points in the league #LakeShow (📺: TNT) https://t.co/hGttPvP0el2017-10-20 03:44:21
Nate Duncan of RealGM discussed the positives from the rookie's game:
Nate Duncan @NateDuncanNBA
Ball has shown anticipation and athleticism on help defense and the boards. But not a ton of juice on O2017-10-20 04:05:52
He ended with 29 minutes played, although Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated questioned why he was rested at the end of the blowout:
Marc J. Spears @MarcJSpearsESPN
Blowout or not, very confused as to why Lonzo Ball would sit the entire fourth quarter. Rookie likely finished with 3 pts, 9 rebs, 4 asst.2017-10-20 04:57:49
One answer is that the Lakers won't get much time off before their second game as they will travel to take on the Phoenix Suns on Friday night. The Clippers also face the Suns in their next game but will be home on Saturday.
Eight of the team's first nine games will take place at the Staples Center.