Patrick Beverley's block of LeBron James validates Clippers' adjustment

LOS ANGELES -- After the Clippers had erased a 15-point, third-quarter deficit and silenced the home crowd in the final seconds, Patrick Beverley let out multiple screams, directed mostly at the Lakers' fan base.

Beverley didn't score a point in the fourth quarter, but his five rebounds -- including a key offensive board -- and what amounted to the game-winning block on a LeBron James' 3-point attempt with 3.6 seconds left helped lift the Clippers to a 111-106 victory on Wednesday night.

The 6-foot-1 Beverley finished with eight points, but his nine boards equaled the Lakers' leading rebounders.

"F---ing heart," Beverley said when asked why he is such a ferocious rebounder.

Beverley's play was the essence of what the Clippers had discussed at halftime, when coach Doc Rivers asked his players to figure out what the biggest adjustment needed to be. With the Lakers carrying a 63-51 advantage and all the momentum into intermission after Anthony Davis was flying all over the court, making hustle plays, Rivers decided he wouldn't be the only voice in the locker room.

"It was interesting," Rivers said. "I think they knew. I asked them to talk; I didn't talk much. I asked them, 'What did you all see?' They said, 'They're playing harder.' I said, 'So that's the easiest adjustment we can make all year if that's true.'"

The Lakers led 68-53 with 9:26 remaining in the third quarter, and the Lakers' home crowd that had waited 65 days for the highly anticipated Christmas rematch between these two teams was hyped. The Clippers took the season opener against the Lakers, but that was a home game for Rivers' team.

This time, Staples Center was nearly all purple and gold, and the Lakers were eager to not only stop a three-game losing streak but also beat their in-house rivals in the marquee holiday game.

But the Clippers outscored the Lakers 33-18 to turn that 15-point deficit into a tied game entering the fourth quarter. And once again, Kawhi Leonard was too much for the Lakers to handle.

On opening day, Leonard scored 30 points, 15 coming during a first-half tear in which he hit seven consecutive shots at one point.

On Wednesday, Leonard had 35 points and 12 rebounds. He scored 17 points in the final 20-plus minutes to turn the game. He buried 3 of 4 3-pointers during that stretch to again get the better of James (23 points, 10 assists, 9 rebounds) and Davis (24 points).

"We came out, we weren't playing hard, we were basically coasting through the game, that first part," Clippers forward Montrezl Harrell. "They were taking it to us. ... We were doing more complaining than playing.

"I think that second half we just came out, said, 'Forget everything. We want to go out here and play our way of basketball, we're gonna compete and we're gonna be that hard-playing team. If they still beat us with that, then hey, we just gotta live with it.'"

With the Clippers trailing by five and just under six minutes left in the game, Beverley grabbed an offensive rebound and hit Paul George for a 20-foot jumper that cut the deficit to three. In the final 4:02, Beverley came up with four rebounds. And with the Clippers trying to protect a 109-106 lead and the clock ticking down, James went to tie the score with Beverley on him, only to see Beverley swipe the ball out of his hands.

That's when Beverley let the pro-Lakers crowd repeatedly hear his reaction to what ended up as the winning stop.

"We just got waves of defenders," George said. "And our smallest guy tonight got the biggest stop of the game."