After he poked the ball out of LeBron James’ hand, Clippers guard Patrick Beverley stared down the courtside fans. Then he taunted them.
The play became symbolically rich. The Clippers held on for a 111-106 win over the Lakers on Christmas Day in a designated road game at Staples Center after Beverley denied James the chance to tie the game and force overtime. It gave the Clippers (23-10) bragging rights over the Lakers (24-7) after collecting two early regular-season wins. And although Beverley did not issue much trash talk afterwards, the Clippers made a compelling enough case that they could seriously challenge the Lakers in the playoffs.
But leave it to Clippers star Paul George to properly assess what this game actually meant in the big picture:
“Nothing,” George said. “Nothing.”
Yes, the Lakers and Clippers offered everything you could ever want in a nationally televised Christmas Day game. The outcome did not become official until the final minute. Their star players had varying degrees of success. So did their bench players. This game surely added some regular-season spice to help the network ratings.