LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Virtual fans and emitted crowds of noise. Between the two Ex-Finals, MVPs played against each other, playing against real faces. Battle for Los Angeles about 3,000 miles from downtown Staples.
Lakers 103, Clippers 101.
The NBA is back.
The opening night of the renewed NBA season finally arrived on Thursday, and what a strange experience. A late-season Lakers-Clippers game would be an almost impossible ticket to Los Angeles. Fans would pack LA Live hours before leaving. For scalers, it would be an outdoor day. In the bubble, this wedding meeting was witnessed by dozens of media representatives, several more NBA staff and a handful of players who went on standby watching from socially remote locations.
Lawrence Tanter, the legendary Lakers public announcer, gave a pre-recorded introduction.
During the break, the Lakers̵7; usual in-game entertainment was played on the pitch screen.
Because of PSO, exactly, a little unclear.
The social justice movement that spanned America was highlighted during the NBA break and continued on Thursday. Players climbed to the floor in black T-shirts embossed with BLACK LIVE MATERIAL. Social justice messages have changed names on sweaters. A two-minute video with emphasis on movement is played back after warming up. Hours earlier in the gym, on the football field, the Pelicans and the Jazz knelt for an anthem. The Lakers and Clippers did the same, joining arms until a pre-pasted transfer was made from the bracket-mounted speakers at Compton Kid’s Club.
As the 58-year-old traveled through pain, Clippers coach Doc Doc Rivers retreated to George Floyd, whose death was ignited by a Minnesota police officer.
“The hardest thing that happened to me in the game today was kneeling on the knees for a few minutes,” Rivers said. “It simply came to my notice then. In the middle of it, I think my knee hurts in two minutes, yet there was a guy who was kneeling on someone’s neck for eight minutes. There were guys who needed towels and things to stand on their knees. And someone knelt on another person’s neck for eight minutes. It’s nuts when you think about it. “
It is speculated that the game was not beautiful. No one expected a three-week training camp and three scandals to eliminate the corrosive effects of a four-month break. And it didn’t. The first quarter was disgusting. Both teams put together 21 fouls. The Lakers performed two of the eight three-point tests. It’s a sudden shot compared to the Clippers, who missed all seven. Anthony Davis scored 14 points in the first quarter. The Lakers finished it with a 12-point lead.
The Clippers could have been folded. It was a tough month for the other LA team. The group was devastated by disease and external problems. Two of the top six men in the NBA – Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell – did not play. Marcus Morris arrived late. Ivica Zubac, who was diagnosed with COVID-19 in late June, has only returned to practice this week. Patrick Beverley is still working on his game.
The Clippers did not give up. The Lakers led by ten points in the second quarter. In the third half, they scored an 11-point lead. They held the lead by entering the fourth. Paul George (30 points) and Kawhi Leonard (28) took over three rains, nine of them through the Lakers defenders.
George leveled the game three times before 28 seconds left, and then you felt the strangeness of the moment again. The tie, the two elites of the Western Conference, and the usual crowds, plus 200,000 plus, spin. Instead, Rivers ’stormy voice could be heard through the music. Beverley issued defensive instructions. When James shot down his time with 13 seconds left, the only sound came from the Lakers bench.
James was not done either. Finally, in the Clippers’ possession, James glued himself to Leonardo. Bottled, Leonard bounced the ball for George. James joined him. With James on the club, George tried to use the balance three-pointer that happened.
One defensive possession, two elite defensive plays.
Not bad for a 35-year-old in his 17th season.
“The rhythm, how offensive, it takes shots, those things will take a little longer to get back,” James said. “But the only thing you can do is defend yourself. You can always communicate … you can have teammates who support you when you make a mistake. Communication on the defensive side is something that should always be relevant. “
One match down, seven before the playoffs and both teams know there is still work to be done. “I have a lot to do to get into the habits and discipline we played with when we got into the break,” Frank Vogel said. Conditioning remains a factor. The percentage of three-point shooting will increase. The gaming experience will continue to be an adjustment – about 300 Lakers fans watched the game during video conferencing – as if playing without crowd energy.
“When we play there, we really don’t notice that there are no fans in the game,” Davis said. “We just go there and compete and try to win. They work well with crowd noise … but when we compete, it’s just the five of us … the more we use this arena, the easier it will be. “
The games will not be beautiful. The environment will be strange. But four months after the global pandemic halted the season, the NBA is back. For players, leagues are all that matters.