LOS ANGELES — Patrick Beverley was effusive in giving credit to the Los Angeles Lakers for coming out “with a lot more juice” in their first win over the LA Clippers this season.
“We gotta give them a lot of credit,” Beverley said after Sunday’s 112-103 defeat. “… They took it personal … It’s one game. Of course, living in L.A., man, it’s hard to deal with this loss, but we have to wash it down the shower, keep getting better, and we will.”
Beverley’s competitiveness was still churning when a reporter tried to ask the Clippers’ proud two-time All-Defensive performer what kind of challenge LeBron James presented defensively. Beverley repeatedly interrupted with the same answer.
“No challenge,” he scoffed twice.
When the reporter reframed his question by asking Beverley to describe what it’s like as a defender when James is trying to force a switch — as he did a few times late in the fourth quarter, when he scored 12 of his 28 points — Beverley quickly replied, “Not hard at all.”
James made seven of 17 shots overall in the game but did not take any against Beverley, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.
Coming off a big win over Milwaukee on Friday, James and the Lakers handed the Clippers their first loss when at full strength. The Clippers were previously 10-0 when coach Doc Rivers had his full roster available.
Beverley, the Clippers (43-20) and Rivers were quick to credit the Lakers (49-13) with wanting this game more, executing better and being the more physical team. But they also made it clear that their first loss to their Staples Center hallway rivals in three meetings isn’t a setback by any means.
“It’s hard to beat any team three times in this league,” said Paul George, who scored 31 points but was held to two in the fourth quarter. “… They beat us in the third game. We got another one. It doesn’t set us back. They played. They were the team that really wanted it. They went and got it today. We have to play them one more time. Life goes on. We’re not down about it. Just keep it rolling.”
Kawhi Leonard scored 27 points but was held to two rebounds and zero assists, marking the first time this season that he failed to record an assist. The Clippers had a season-low 12 assists, and Rivers groaned afterward about the team’s lack of ball movement and pace to go with the players’ physicality waning after the opening minutes of the game.
“The Lakers just played more physical. They were into it more, they executed more, they deserved the game tonight,” Rivers said. “They really did. The fact that we had chances was unbelievable to me.
“I really thought they had the better spirit tonight towards the game. And honestly, in the first two, I thought we had the better spirit in it. We’ll see them again.”