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Kawhi Leonard: Clippers-Lakers Christmas Game Is 'Different Matchup' from Opener

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistDecember 25, 2019

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 22:   Kawhi Leonard #2 of the LA Clippers controls possession of the ball in front of LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers late in the fourth quarter in a 112-102 Clipper win during the LA Clippers season home opener at Staples Center on October 22, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Clippers got the better of their rival on the first night of the season, but Kawhi Leonard knows the second game against the Los Angeles Lakers won't be the same. 

"It was just the first game of the season, everybody was just trying to get in their rhythm," the Clippers star said Tuesday, per Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. "I think they got [Kyle] Kuzma back playing and now we got Paul [George], so it's gonna be two different teams.

"We've been through a journey 'til Christmas," he added. "It's a different matchup."

The Clippers won 112-102 on Oct. 22 but the Lakers will look for revenge on Christmas Day at the Staples Center.

The first game of the season is always difficult, especially with new players taking on key roles. The top three scorers in that matchup—Leonard and Lakers' stars Anthony Davis and Danny Green—were all playing their first games with their new teams.

The Lakers were able to find their groove immediately afterward, winning seven straight and 24 of their next 26 games.

Of course, injuries were also an issue as the Lakers were without Kyle Kuzma and the Clippers were without Paul George.

The squads should be near full strength when they do battle Wednesday, with Davis and LeBron James expected to play, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. Kuzma was also listed as probable despite an ankle injury.

On the Clippers side, Patrick Beverley has missed time recently with a groin injury but he's expected to play as well, per Tomer Azarly of ClutchPoints.

It creates a dream matchup on a national stage between two of the most talented squads and some of the biggest names in the NBA.