Lakers Receive Rings, Then Lose to Clippers in Season Opener

Los Angeles Clippers v Los Angeles Lakers

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - The Los Angeles Lakers received their rings for winning last season's NBA championship, then lost to the Los Angeles Clippers, 116-109, Tuesday night at Staples Center in a game they never led.

The ring ceremony was conducted on a virtual basis in an attempt to reduce the possibility of spreading the coronavirus. Videos of messages from players' families were played as they received their rings.

A video from the wife and daughters of coach Frank Vogel was played as he received his ring. Videos of frontline medical workers were played as the assistant coaches received their rings.

The game was played without fans present. The Lakers announced on Nov. 11 that games at Staples Center would be played without fans until further notice, following “the guidance of state and local health officials.''

The Lakers announced Tuesday they would repeat the ring ceremony and unveil the banner marking their record-equaling 17th title after fans are allowed to attend the games.

The Lakers trailed 16-5, four minutes, three seconds into the game following an 8-0 run. The Lakers were outscored, 15-2, later in the quarter to trail 39-17, their biggest deficit.

The Lakers cut the lead to 56-54 at halftime and tied the score, 75-75, with 5:04 left in the third quarter. The Clippers responded with a 14-3 run to lead 89-78 at the end of the third quarter.

The closest the Lakers got in the fourth quarter was six, 96-90, with 9:01 to play.

Guard Paul George scored 33 points and forward Kawhi Leonard 26 for the Clippers. George and teammate Ivica Zubac had the game's best plus/minus, plus-17, as the Clippers outscored the Lakers by 17 when they were on the court.

LeBron James led five Lakers in double figures with 22, while forward-center Montrezel Harrell added 17 in 32:15 off the bench. Talen Horton-Tucker had the Lakers' best plus/minus at plus-7 in 10:51. He was the only Laker with a plus/minus of more than plus-three.

The 2020-21 season opener came 72 days after the Lakers' 106-93 victory over the Miami Heat on Oct. 11 to win the championship, the shortest offseason of the four major men's professional sports leagues in the United States.

The game marked the debut of Tyronn Lue as the Clippers' coach succeeding Doc Rivers, who reached what the team described as a “mutual decision'' with chairman Steve Ballmer to step down as coach after seven seasons.

Lue was an assistant coach with the Clippers last season when they lost to the Denver Nuggets in a seven-game Western Conference semifinal series after taking a three games to one lead.

Lue coached the Cleveland Cavaliers from 2016-18, guiding them to three NBA Finals appearances including a championship in 2016.

Photo: Getty Images

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