NBA: Clippers defeat Lakers in Kawhi Leonard’s return
Paul George registered 15 points and 10 rebounds and Kawhi Leonard had 14 points and seven rebounds in his return from major knee surgery to help the Los Angeles Clippers post a 103-97 victory over the host Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday night.
John Wall added 15 points in his Clippers’ debut, Ivica Zubac collected a career-best 17 rebounds to go with 14 points and five blocked shots and Marcus Morris Sr. had 14 points as the Clippers defeated the Lakers for the eighth straight time.
Lonnie Walker IV scored 26 points, Anthony Davis recorded 25 points and eight rebounds and LeBron James added 20 points, 10 rebounds and six assists for the Lakers, who lost their second straight game to open the season.
The contest was the first for the Clippers. Leonard played 21 minutes off the bench in his first contest since he tore the ACL in his right knee on June 14, 2021 against the Utah Jazz in a Western Conference semifinal game.
“It’s amazing,” Leonard said of playing on a full-strength Clippers team. “You see tonight, everybody is out there contributing on the defensive end and on the offensive end.”
“I feel good,” Leonard said, adding that coming off the bench wasn’t a tough adjustment.
“I pretty much do my same routine, keep my focus and tell myself it’s something that’ll help in the long run,” said Leonard.
Russell Westbrook missed all 11 of his field-goal attempts while scoring two points in 27 minutes for the Lakers, who shot 35.1 percent from the field and were 9 of 45 from 3-point range.
Kawhi feelin' it! pic.twitter.com/ca7v8MCvAo
— LA Clippers (@LAClippers) October 21, 2022
The Clippers outrebounded the Lakers 58-38 and made 46.3 percent of their shots, including 9 of 29 from behind the arc. Luke Kennard hit all three of his 3-point attempts while scoring 11 points.
After the Lakers moved ahead by two four minutes into the final quarter, the Clippers answered with a 12-4 run. The Clippers got consecutive 3-pointers from Reggie Jackson and Kennard to take a 95-91 lead with 5:39 left and later went ahead 99-93 on Wall’s basket with 3:07 remaining.
Leonard drained a 21-footer to make it 101-95 with 52.3 seconds left and the Clippers closed it out.
Leonard entered with 6:25 left in the first half and quickly made back-to-back shots to give the Clippers a 52-36 lead.
But the Lakers answered with an 18-2 surge to tie the game at 54 on Davis’ basket with 1:10 left.
The score was tied at 56 at the break. Davis had 15 to lead the Lakers in the half and Wall scored 10 for the Clippers.
The Clippers used a 17-0 burst — the last two on George’s dunk — to take an 80-65 advantage with 3:58 left in the third period.
The Lakers trailed 85-77 entering the fourth quarter and eventually moved ahead 89-87 with 8:01 to play when Walker slammed home an alley-oop pass from Austin Reaves.