Los Angeles, March 9: LeBron James heralded a "big weekend" for the Los Angeles Lakers as they followed up a defeat of Eastern Conference leaders the Milwaukee Bucks with their first win over the Los Angeles Clippers this season.
The Lakers and the Clippers are the top two seeds in the West as things stand, boasting an array of talents after Anthony Davis joined James last year, while Kawhi Leonard and Paul George went to their rivals.
Although James' Lakers lead the conference, they had been beaten by the Clippers in the sides' prior two meetings.
That run came to an end on Sunday (March 8), however, when the four-time MVP came up with 28 points, nine assists and seven rebounds in a 112-103 road win. Davis finished with 30 points and eight rebounds, as George (31 points) and Leonard (27 points) could not keep the Clippers in the game.
Coming less than 48 hours after the Lakers had beaten the Bucks, James recognised the significance of his team sending a message to their fellow title contenders.
"It was hard fought, two teams that are getting up for the playoff," he told ESPN. "We're still trying to get better. Both teams are trying to get better.
"We won it with our defense, and we won it with our offense at times, as well.
"We knew it was a big weekend for us. We had Milwaukee on Friday, the number one team in our league, and we knew we had the Clippers on their home floor, and they beat us the first two times – both on their home floor and our home floor.
"We're a team that don't want to be swept by anyone, so we came here with that mindset.
"We had a great gameplan from coach [Frank] Vogel and his coaching staff, and we just tried to execute it as much as we could throughout 48 minutes."
Despite the All-Star talent on the floor, James saw Avery Bradley's contributions as key. The former Clipper had 24 points, shooting 6-of-12 from three-point range.
"Paul George got it going in the first half, both with threes, with rim attacks," James said. "We just tried to put pressure and make it tough on them throughout the game.
"Avery Bradley in that third quarter was the reason why we were able to make that run, because of his three-point shooting. We just tried to follow that lead from there."