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Lakers finally top Clippers in Round 3 of L.A. rivalry

  • Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James celebrates after scoring and drawing a foul during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Sunday, March 8, 2020, in Los Angeles. The Lakers won 112-103. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • Los Angeles forward Kawhi Leonard, right, dunks as Los Angeles Lakers guard Alex Caruso watches during the first half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, March 8, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

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  • Kawhi Leonard of the Clippers guards Anthony Davis #3 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the first half at Staples Center on March 08, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers drives to the basket on Kawhi Leonard of the Clippers during the first half at Staples Center on March 08, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James, left, shoots as Los Angeles forward Kawhi Leonard defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, March 8, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James, left, shoots as Los Angeles guard Paul George defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, March 8, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • Los Angeles guard Paul George, left, yells as he scores while forward Montrezl Harrell watches during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Lakers Sunday, March 8, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James, right, shoots as Los Angeles center Ivica Zubac defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, March 8, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • Los Angeles guard Lou Williams, left, shoots as Los Angeles Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, March 8, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • Los Angeles center Ivica Zubac, left, and Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard reach for a rebound during the first half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, March 8, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • Clippers guard Lou Williams, left, shoots as Lakers center Dwight Howard defends during the first half of an NBA game Sunday, March 8, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James celebrates after scoring and drawing a foul during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Sunday, March 8, 2020, in Los Angeles. The Lakers won 112-103. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

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LOS ANGELES – Among the players at least, the Lakers and Clippers have tried defiantly to declare that their series, played in the same building and chasing the same title, is not a rivalry.

In a way that’s been true: For a true rivalry, each side needs to demonstrate that they can win.

After five months of chasing, the Lakers (49-13) finally got that moment on Sunday at Staples Center in a 112-103 win against the Clippers (43-20), who had won the first two meetings. That moment rose to a crescendo in the final minute, as LeBron James (28 points, 9 assists) took Marcus Morris to the rack for an and-one lay-up, sparking a standing ovation and M-V-P chants at a supposed Clippers home game.

Coming off beating the league-leading Milwaukee Bucks on Friday, the Lakers put together their most impressive weekend of the season so far, beating the two clearest outstanding opponents left on their regular season resume. For the Clippers, it ended a six-game win streak that many felt reflected the true potential of a fully healthy roster.

For the city of Los Angeles, it meant one thing only: The rivalry is officially on.

Anthony Davis actually led the Lakers effort with 30 points, standing out during a six-minute third-quarter stretch and extending the lead while James was on the bench.

The Clippers’ Paul George led all scorers with 31 points. After missing the opening-night match and struggling to shoot on Christmas, George was the toughest scorer to stop. He was 6 for 16, including three 3-pointers, and 10 for 11 at the line. As he initially started out hot, the Clippers led by as many as nine points.

But the long-range shooting largely didn’t show up Sunday, as the Clippers were just 7 for 31. The one standout from the Clippers’ bench was Montrezl Harrell, who had 20 points.

The surprise of the day was Avery Bradley, whose largely unhappy tenure with the Clippers ended last year in a trade. Now a Lakers starter, the 29-year-old carried the Lakers’ outside shooting (6 for 12) and finished with a season-high 24 points.

More to come on this report.

Execution is everything. #LakeShow pic.twitter.com/VsbJbPxKC1

— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) March 8, 2020

🗣🗣🗣

LeBron takes it STRONG to the cup and extends the lead!@Lakers 112@LAClippers 100

40.8 remaining on ABC pic.twitter.com/h60Xtryvib

— NBA (@NBA) March 8, 2020

Calm, balanced, in rhythm… Kawhi steps back on the jumper!@Lakers 104@LAClippers 97

3:35 left on ABC pic.twitter.com/kyk1Ju3dA3

— NBA (@NBA) March 8, 2020

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