The Los Angeles Clippers beat the Los Angeles Lakers 103-97 on Thursday night to start their season with big hopes. Kawhi Leonard had 14 points and seven rebounds in his first game in 16 months.

The Klaw is back

In his first game since tearing a ligament in his right knee in a playoff game in June 2021, Leonard entered the game off the bench for the first time since 2013 and played 21 minutes. After sitting out the entire previous season as he recovered from surgery, the two-time NBA Finals MVP returned to a temporary reserve position.

The Clippers hung on down the stretch to defeat their more storied Los Angeles rivals for the seventh consecutive time thanks to Paul George's 15 points and John Wall's 15 points in his NBA debut.

Although Westbrook struggled offensively once more, he made several standout defensive plays while defending Leonard in the closing minutes. Fans were startled when the frequently injured Davis fell to the ground in the third quarter after being undercut. He stood up to stretch in the tunnel and returned a little while later.

After Davis left the court, the Clippers instantly opened up a close game, scoring 17 straight points in less than three minutes. However, the Lakers went on a 24-7 run to overturn that 15-point deficit, even seizing the lead with 8:01 remaining on a Walker to Austin Reaves alley-oop. Russ will take a lot of heat for tonight's offensive performance. He had a dismal offensive performance, scoring only two points on 0-for-11 shooting.

Your highest-paid starting point guard must deliver more.

Lakers shooting woes continue

Despite terrible shooting performances from Russell Westbrook (0 for 11), fellow point guards Patrick Beverley (1 for 7), and Kendrick Nunn (0 for 7) in their Lakers home debuts, the Lakers manage to take the lead in the 4th quarter. They overcame two significant deficits and kept the game close to the final minute.

Overall, the Lakers made 9 out of 45 three-point attempts. LeBron James got 20 points and ten rebounds in the 20th home opening of his career, while Anthony Davis scored 25 points despite appearing to have less mobility following a mid-game fall. 26 points were scored by Lonnie Walker.

The Lakers are a vulnerable group. The Lakers need role players like Kendrick Nunn, Reaves, and Walker to play above and beyond their usual production to overcome these problems.

LeBron hinted at this after the season opener when he said, "We're not a team constructed of great shooting... It's not like we're sitting here with many lasers on our team." Nunn failed to score, finishing 0-for-7 in his 11 minutes of action, whereas Walker had a good game, scoring 20 points in his 31 minutes of action.