Leonard, Clippers outfox Lakers in ‘Battle of Los Angeles’

Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James, right, is defended by Los Angeles Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard at the first half of an NBA game on Tuesday in Los Angeles. (AP)
Updated 23 October 2019

Leonard, Clippers outfox Lakers in ‘Battle of Los Angeles’

  • The two LA teams made significant changes but the Clippers appeared to have added more value

Kawhi Leonard and the Clippers won the opening round of Los Angeles’s revitalized battle for basketball supremacy on Tuesday, defeating LeBron James and the Lakers 112-102 in a pulsating season-opening clash at the Staples Center.

Leonard, who arrived at the Clippers in the off-season after leading Toronto to the NBA title last season, wasted no time roaring back into action, leading the scoring with 30 points.

“It was great. A lot of emotions, game one,” said Leonard, who grew up in Riverside, 50 miles east of Los Angeles.

“I am just happy we came out and got a victory. We had great practices and some carry over from that tonight.”

The Clippers attacked the rim, forced easy turnovers, used a stingy defense to keep James and his new sidekick Anthony Davis in check.

Leonard also had six rebounds and five assists, reserve guard Lou Williams finished with 21 points and power forward Montrezl Harrell tallied 17 points and seven rebounds.

James shot seven-of-19 for 18 points and Davis shot eight-of-21 for 25 points for the Lakers who are hoping their offseason changes will boost the team’s fortunes after they finished a disappointing 37-45 and failed to qualify for the postseason for the sixth season in a row.

“It is the first game,” said James. “It was a huge test. We have a lot of room to improve. We are a new group with a new system. We did some good things and we did some not so good things.

“We look forward to getting some film and seeing some of the mistakes we made.”

The one bright spot for the Lakers was newcomer Danny Green who scored 28 points by hitting 10 of his 14 field-goal attempts, including seven of nine from beyond the arc. Davis said he and James will need time to get used to each other on the court.

“We are both aggressive so sometimes we miss each other,” Davis said. “We are still learning and just trying to figure it out. This is game one of many.”

A 19-7 run to begin the fourth quarter helped the Clippers seal the win and hold off the Lakers the rest of the way.

The two Los Angeles teams made some of the most signficant changes but the Clippers appeared to have added more value.

Every one of their bench players reached double figures on Tuesday as they outscored the Laker reserves 60-19. Williams outscored the Lakers reserves by himself.

He said the Clippers didn’t want to just win, that they are tired of playing second fiddle to the Lakers and wanted nothing more than to dominate their city rivals.

“We always play with a chip on our shoulder,” Williams said. “For last two months all the talk has been about the Lakers versus the Clippers.

“We hear that we are the Junior Varsity team, or little brother, or whatever. We are pros too. That’s why we have a chip on our shoulder.”

The Lakers roared to a 13-2 lead after a basket by Davis less than four minutes into the contest. However, the Clippers stormed back, cutting the deficit to 25-22 at the end of the quarter.

Clippers outscored the Lakers 40-29 in the second quarter and led 62-54 at halftime.

Thanks to the addition of Leonard from Toronto and Paul George from Oklahoma City, the Clippers are one of the early front runners to contend for a title.

“We would love to win a championship and I think we are going to compete at high level and give ourselves an opportunity,” said Williams


Man Utd get better of Liverpool in five-goal thriller

Updated 25 January 2021

Man Utd get better of Liverpool in five-goal thriller

  • The English champions lost a league game at Anfield for the first time

MANCHESTER, United Kingdom: Bruno Fernandes’s stunning free-kick inflicted more misery on Liverpool as Manchester United progressed to the fifth round of the FA Cup with a thrilling 3-2 win at Old Tafford on Sunday.

Both sides struggled to create chances in a cagey 0-0 draw when they met in the Premier League last weekend.

But there was no repeat of that caution in a wide-open contest that ended Liverpool’s hopes of a first domestic cup win under Jurgen Klopp for another season.

The English champions lost a league game at Anfield for the first time in nearly four years to Burnley on Thursday to fall six points behind United at the top of the table.

In response, Klopp named a strong side despite making five changes as Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino returned.

Liverpool’s only goals in their previous five games came against an Aston Villa youth team in the last round of the FA Cup after Dean Smith’s side were struck down by a coronavirus outbreak.

But shades of the side that stormed to a first league title in 30 years last season were restored even if Klopp’s wait for a first win at Old Trafford goes on.

Firmino and Salah combined perfectly for the opener on 18 minutes as the Brazilian’s pass opened up the United defense and the Egyptian provided a dinked finish over Dean Henderson.

United have made a habit of coming from behind to win this season and took just eight minutes to hit back.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer handed Fernandes a rare rest from the start, but still picked a side packed with firepower featuring Marcus Rashford, Mason Greenwood, Edinson Cavani and Paul Pogba.

Rashford’s raking cross-field pass just evaded James Milner and Greenwood did not look like a striker lacking confidence as he fired past Alisson Becker for his first goal in 11 games.

A number of injuries to center-backs have disrupted Liverpool’s season with Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez expected to miss the rest of the season, while Joel Matip has struggled to stay fit.

Klopp has been forced to field two midfielders in Jordan Henderson and Fabinho together at the heart of the defense in recent weeks and the performance of 19-year-old Rhys Williams showed why the German has been reluctant to rely on his young center-backs.

Williams failed to cut out Greenwood’s through ball for Rashford three minutes into the second half and the England international composed himself before slotting past the advancing Alisson.

This time, United’s momentum was short-lived as Milner should have levelled for Liverpool when he spooned a glorious chance over from close range, but quickly made amends by teeing up Salah to smash home his second just before the hour mark.

Both managers turned to their match winners off the bench for the final half-hour as Klopp first turned to Sadio Mane before Fernandes made his entrance.

Trent Alexander-Arnold stung the palms of Henderson, who then saved twice from Salah as Liverpool’s attack began to click back into gear.

But it was Fernandes who won the game with a brilliant free-kick 12 minutes from time.

This week will be the first anniversary of the Portuguese’s arrival from Sporting Lisbon that has transformed United’s fortunes.

A year ago, United trailed Liverpool by 30 points in the Premier League having played two games more.

The past seven days have shown they are now more than a match for their old rivals.

Fernandes’s strike was a worthy winner of a thrilling tie as he used Pogba to unsight Alisson and fired the ball low into the Brazilian’s left-hand corner.

United will face West Ham in the last 16 next month.