Despite the fact they were playing in the NBA’s bubble at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, on Thursday night, they produced the same entertaining, high-level game they had played the three times they met earlier this season at their shared home arena of Staples Center.
“We’re two teams in the same city and two teams that’s fighting for one common goal,” Lakers star LeBron James said on a video conference call after scoring 16 points, grabbing 11 rebounds and dishing out 7 assists in the Lakers’ 103-101 win over the Clippers. “And that’s to win a championship and bring it to the city of Los Angeles and [each] fan base. So you have so many competitors on the floor — going out there and representing the purple and gold, representing Laker nation; those guys are doing the same thing for their fan base. No matter what the [situation] is, no matter what the bubble is, no fans, or [with] fans, basketball is basketball and competitive spirit is competitive spirit, so we’re right back to where we left off.”
Long before the NBA suspended its season March 11 because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Lakers and Clippers were pegged by many as the two best teams in the Western Conference. The battle for Los Angeles became one of the biggest showdowns of the season each time the teams squared off, a potential preview of the Western Conference finals. James acknowledged after Thursday’s game that the chance to play against Clippers stars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George was one of the things he missed the most after over four