The NBA Is Back!

You know the Clippers wanted to win that game last night.

Jim Rome
July 31, 2020 - 9:37 am
Anthony Davis

USA Today


You know the Clippers wanted to win that game last night. Until LeBron ripped it away.

Oof. That has to sting that’ll leave a  mark. But before we unpack that, let’s take a step back. Because last night was different.

Whether you call it The Restart, the Reboot, a whole new game or whatever phrase you want to use for what we’re watching in the bubble, I mean, on the campus, the NBA is playing games that count now. And it’s still taking time to get used to.

They’ve been playing in Orlando for more than a week and I’m still not quite used to hearing almost every sound on the court, from a hand hitting the ball to guys talking and squeaking shoes. And I’m really not sure I’m used to the virtual fans they’ve added along the sides of the court and behind the backboards. I get where the league is going with that, I’m just not sure it’s working.

And as for the basketball, it was a little rusty. Okay, it was a lot rusty, but it’s something. And it will get better.

You know the Clippers are thinking that after last night. And yes, I know they’re missing some key guys at the moment and that things could be different if and when there’s a Battle for LA in Orlando in the playoffs, but be real, last night stings, doesn’t it, Clipper fans?

The Clippers lost to the Lakers just before the league went on hiatus in March. And then promptly lost to them in the first game back in July.

And no, I’m not reading much into last night. Teams are still figuring out their rosters and getting into a rhythm. It wasn’t always pretty, and sometimes downright sloppy, but you know Clipper fans are pissed about the fact that they’ve lost two straight to the Lakers and it was right there for them last night. Double-digit lead in the third quarter and they let it get away. 

Man, it was RIGHT there for you. LeBron had an off night shooting. The Lakers are missing key members of their backcourt and the Clippers still didn’t get it done. 

The Lakers are without Avery Bradley and Rajon Rondo. That means more Dion Waiters. And that means someone is going in the blender.

If you’re watching on CBS Sports Network, I’m not sure what I loved more – Waiters spin move or JaVale McGee replicating the spin move on the bench.

How weird was it? There was a stretch in the third where the Lakers had Dion Waiters, Alex Caruso, KCP, Kyle Kuzma and Anthony Davis on the floor. That is a weird-ass lineup. But it worked. They were plus-five in the five minutes they were out there. 

No Bradley and Rondo means more Caruso. And that is always a good thing. The show’s favorite player, the world’s favorite player, your favorite player’s favorite player, lived up to the hype yet again. My guy is not a meme, he’s a stud. He’s a difference maker at both ends of the floor. You knew he would step up when it mattered most and AC Fresh did exactly that, coming up with a crucial steal late.

I’ve said it before and I will say it again: big time players make big time plays in big time games.  And I’ll say this again: anytime you’re ready to hear how awesome you are on this, player, I’m here for it. You know where to find me, AC. 

But it wasn’t just the Carushow. Anthony Davis was a monster. He shook off that eye injury to go for 34 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists.

This dude is a problem now. Especially for the Clippers. They can throw Paul George and Kawhi Leonard at LeBron James, but they don’t have an answer for Anthony Davis. When he plays the five, the Clippers are in trouble. I know Davis doesn’t love playing the five, but he has to love the results, which was a mix of him getting whatever shots he wanted and wearing out a path to the free throw line.

And when he is doing this, you can go ahead and cancel Christmas or whatever is important you:

Again, that’s a 7-footer stepping out and dropping threes like a shooting guard. That’s just wrong.

And if you’re a Clipper fan, you have to be thinking that the final sequence was even more wrong. LeBron had been having a really rough night, but then, with just over 12 seconds left, he comes through with this.

The miss and the follow for the game-winner.

I’m not sure what’s more galling if you’re a Clipper fan, that LeBron had the game-winner after an off-night or the fact that he blew past four Clippers to get the rebound and putback.

And then he played lock-down defense to close it out.

We’re past the point of the big brother/little brother narrative, but that did feel like a big brother/little brother all over again. Big brother doesn’t have his best game, but finds a way to stay in it, and then rips it in the end.

That has to has to really hurt for Clipper fans, but I’m a glass half full guy, and I bet it feels good to get punched in the face again. I mean getting your jaw broken and suffering a little pain has to be better than going months without feeling anything at all, right??