The Clippers will be defined during this uncertain season by the productivity of Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan.
They were the catalysts behind the Clippers’ march over the Lakers on Thursday night, delivering in the season opener for both teams. They will be asked to produce again in the Clippers’ home opener against the Phoenix Suns on Saturday night at Staples Center.
Griffin authored 29 points and 12 rebounds and Jordan provided 24 rebounds and 14 points against the Lakers.
“It’s very important because we are two guys who have been here the longest,” Griffin said late Thursday night inside the Clippers’ locker room. “As leaders of this team, I think it’s important that we always set the tone. Even if we aren’t always having great games, [we have] to be able to affect the game and affect our teammates in a positive way.”
Griffin is entering his eighth season in the NBA and Jordan his 10th.
The two began the process right away for the Clippers, starting with Jordan making two free throws to open the game.
Then it was Griffin with a layup, a dunk, another layup and a blocked shot on Lakers point guard Lonzo Ball.
By the end of the first quarter, Griffin had 13 points and Jordan had nine rebounds.
“Me and Blake have to set the tone,” Jordan said. “Our teammates are looking at us and we have to be the two guys that get it done. We do have a lot of talent on this team, but Blake and myself have been here the longest and we have to lead the way.”
Beverley antagonizes Ball
The antagonist struck immediately, glaring, barking, stalking his prey all over the Staples Center court Thursday night.
And it was Beverley’s way of showing Ball that his dad, LaVar Ball, has the entire NBA relishing the opportunity to destroy his son because of LaVar’s constant braggadocio about the reserved Lonzo.
The big moment arrived when Beverley shoved Ball to the floor in the first quarter, drawing a foul and seeming to revel in it because it was Ball and it was the Lakers’ home game.
Moments later, Beverley forced Ball into a backcourt violation.
Then Beverley reached in and stole the ball from Ball and waltzed in for a layup in the second quarter.
After the game, after Beverley had 10 points and two steals to Ball’s three points on one-for-six shooting and four assists, Beverley shared his conversation with Ball.
“I told him after the game, due to all the riffraff his dad brings, that he’s going to get a lot of people coming at him,” Beverley said. “He has to be ready for that and I let him know that after the game. But what a better way to start than with me spending 94 feet guarding him tonight. Welcome those little young guys to the NBA.”
When Beverley forced Lakers center Brook Lopez into an offensive foul while setting a screen for Ball, the Clippers point guard yelled out, “first team.”
“You should see him in practice. It really is who he is,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “He reminds me a lot of [Kevin] Garnett. You don’t think all that energy is for real when you’re on the other side. And then when you get him on your team and realize, ‘No, this is him every day.’ He’s deadly serious about basketball and he’s extremely competitive. That’s just who he is.”
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
On the air: TV: Prime Ticket; Radio: 570.
Update: The Clippers have defeated the Suns in 16 out of their last 20 regular-season games. The Clippers shot only 36.4% from three-point range against the Lakers, which is something the Clippers seek to improve. The Clippers shot just 39.3% from the field. But they turned the ball over only 15 times against the Lakers, while also getting 11 steals.