Kawhi Leonard scored 14 points and seven rebounds in his first game in 16 months, and the Los Angeles Clippers opened a season of exuberant expectations with a 103-97 win over the Lakers on Thursday night.
Paul George and John Wall both scored 15 points for the Clippers, who held on down the stretch to beat their more pedigreed Los Angeles rivals for the eighth consecutive time.
Leonard came off the bench and played 21 minutes in his first game since he tore a ligament in his right knee in a playoff game in June 2021.
Anthony Davis scored 25 points despite reduced mobility after a mid-game fall, while LeBron James had 20 points and ten rebounds in the 20th home opener of his career. Lonnie Walker scored 26 points in his Lakers home debut.
The Lakers dropped to 0-2 but still rallied from two large deficits and kept it close into the final minute despite nightmare shooting performances from Russell Westbrook (0 for 11) and fellow point guards Patrick Beverley (1 for 7) and Kendrick Nunn (0 for 7) in their Lakers home debuts. The Lakers went 9 for 45 on 3-pointers overall.