The LA Clippers won the first city duel of the season against the Los Angeles Lakers, thanks in part to Isaiah Hartenstein, who made LeBron James look old a few times in the final section. Meanwhile, the Lakers continue to try LeBron as their center.
The German got 11 points (5/7 FG) in 16 minutes, 7 of which the international scored in the final quarter when the Lakers presented their small line-up with LeBron James as the center. The 23-year-old scored all of his 7 points in those minutes against the Lakers mega-star, including a mighty slam when he caught LeBron on the wrong foot.
“Isaiah is playing a great season for us,” said Clippers guard Luke Kennard, with whom Hartenstein spends most of his time on the field. “He always stays positive and always plays hard – no matter how things stand.”
Hartenstein himself passed the praise on to point guard Eric Bledsoe. “He made my life easy. In the second quarter he came to me and said what he saw. That helped and later we did more pick’n’roll.” That was the right remedy against the porous defense of the Lakers, especially James appeared several times disinterested in defense and allowed Hartenstein easy deals.
Los Angeles Lakers are experimenting with LeBron as a center
James himself admitted this frankly. “I played really badly in defense as a center,” said the 36-year-old after the game. It wasn’t the first time that LeBron had been in the five for a long time, this variant could well work for James. To do this, however, he himself has to communicate more as the last man.
Against the Clippers and Hartenstein that only worked partially, in nine minutes with LeBron as the center, the Lakers scored exactly one point more than their opponents. The minutes with Anthony Davis (+6 in 18 minutes) or Dwight Howard (+4 in 3 minutes) were also made positive, only the phases with Davis AND Howard were more than clearly lost (-15 in 18 minutes).
The Lakers now have a few days off, and the Boston Celtics will not continue until Wednesday night. The Clippers have to go back to Portland the day before before they can even see the Celtics at the Staples Center.