It caused NBA analyst Charles Barkley to say that Clippers superstar Kawhi Leonard is the “king of L.A.”
"The Lakers ain't gonna make no run…Kawhi Leonard ran them out of the building last night… Kawhi sent them a message last night. He's the king of LA."
— Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) April 6, 2023
Leonard has seemingly had his way with the Purple and Gold in recent matchups, and he had an easy 25 points on 9-of-17 shooting on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, while LeBron James did very well statistically with 33 points on 13-of-20 shooting, he struggled mightily in the first half, with almost all of his scoring production coming after halftime when the Lakers were already in a big hole.
The player who truly did the Lakers in was guard Norman Powell, who came off the bench to score 27 points. He was big for the Clippers during a crucial second-quarter run in which they took control.
While Leonard is certainly an outstanding player and has played well over the last few months after missing all of last season with an ACL injury, many still feel that even at age 38, James is the better player.
The four-time MVP is averaging 29.0 points, 8.4 rebounds and 6.8 assists per game this season, and if a couple of factors were different (like his team’s record), he would probably be in the MVP discussion right now.
Instead, the Lakers have a 41-39 record and are in seventh place in the Western Conference. Wednesday’s contest presented them with a big opportunity to move toward their goal of finishing at least sixth in the West, but the Clippers damaged those plans.
At the end of the day, Los Angeles measures success in sports by championships, and Leonard has failed to take the Clippers to the NBA Finals so far.
After the veteran injured his knee in the second round of the 2021 playoffs, the Clippers advanced to the Western Conference Finals where they fell to the Phoenix Suns. That’s the furthest the franchise has ever gotten in postseason play.
Meanwhile, James led the Lakers to a title in 2020, and they could have a shot at another ring as soon as this season.