The Los Angeles Lakers are already being linked with another NBA championship.
Even though the Lakers are only five games into an 82-game season that stretches into mid-April, fans could be forgiven in seeing good omens that LeBron James’ team is now in a great position to win it all again in 2023-24.
The Lakers held off the in-city rival Los Angeles Clippers 130-125 in overtime.
James poured in 35 points on 13-of-19 shooting.
The King played 42 big minutes, grabbing 12 rebounds and dishing out seven assists in a vintage performance.
With the OT win, the Lakers snapped a nasty 11-game losing streak to the Clippers.
And that’s where the November talk of another world title in June began.
The Lakers’ previous win over the Clippers dated back to 2020.
That season, Los Angeles overcame everything that came with the coronavirus pandemic and a postseason bubble in Florida to win it all with Anthony Davis, James and then-coach Frank Vogel.
The Lakers, who have won 17 championships, also hadn’t beaten the Clippers on a home court at a shared arena since Christmas Day in 2016.
“That was known,” Austin Reaves said about the losing streaks. “But at the same time, for me, and I (think) I speak for everybody, you want to win every game.”
Four seasons later, the Lakers have already beaten the Clippers, who received a combined 73 points from teammates Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.
Is that already a sign that the Lakers are going to win it all again in 2023-24?
The Clippers will surely have a say in that potential final outcome.
Russell Westbrook added 24 points and 11 rebounds for Ty Lue’s team, which recently added James Harden via a blockbuster trade.
“We played hard,” Lue said. “We just didn’t play smart at times. (Poor) shot selection, and (we needed to) keep our turnovers down a little bit. I can’t fault the effort.”
The 38-year-old James was in playoff form in November.
There’s a long way to go until the NBA Finals in June.
But The King’s crew was impressive in its early season victory over Los Angeles’ other pro basketball team.