Kawhi Leonard’s jumper from about 18 feet away broke a tie with 1.4 seconds left and the Los Angeles Clippers pulled out a 119-117 victory against the host Charlotte Hornets in a back-and-forth game Monday night.
Paul George poured in 19 points and Leonard, who scored the tying basket on the Clippers’ previous possession, finished with 16 points. It was both players’ first game back in the lineup after missing time with injuries.
“It felt good,” said Leonard, a two-time NBA champion who had missed the previous six games with a sprained right ankle. “My teammates trusted me.”
Charlotte’s P.J. Washington missed a potential tying jumper at the buzzer.
Nic Batum, a former Charlotte player, and Reggie Jackson both scored 13 points, and Marcus Morris Sr. and John Wall had 12 points apiece as the Clippers began a four-game road stretch against Eastern Conference teams.
Kelly Oubre Jr. led the Hornets with 28 points, Washington posted 26 and Terry Rozier had 22 points. Nick Richards supplied 11 points and 10 rebounds and Mason Plumlee added eight points and 12 rebounds, but the Hornets were outscored in three of the four quarters.
The Clippers, who dropped four of their previous six games, made 15 shots from 3-point range to help overcome 14-for-21 shooting on free throws.
🖐 Kawhi in the Clutch
After tonight's game-winner, check out some of the best clutch plays from Kawhi Leonard's career! pic.twitter.com/VzMz3H2AqW
— NBA (@NBA) December 6, 2022
The Hornets burst into the lead in the third quarter on the strength of a 36-21 advantage. Rozier, who was 1-for-9 from the field in the first half, made five of his nine shots in the third quarter.
Yet the Clippers wrested back control in the fourth quarter. They were up 104-96 on Batum’s 3 with less than eight minutes to play.
The Hornets came back to tie the game at 115. Rozier’s shot put them ahead with 1:34 to go before Leonard’s heroics.
Los Angeles stretched a two-point lead from the end of the first quarter to 63-54 at halftime, boosted by 9-for-20 shooting on 3s. The Hornets made 6 of 15 3-point attempts in the first half and received 16 points from Oubre and 14 from Washington.
Washington’s scoring was a positive development, considering he was shut out on 0-for-13 shooting Saturday night versus Milwaukee. He finished Monday’s game 11-for-21 from the field, making four of his 10 launches from beyond the 3-point arc.
The Hornets wrapped up a homestand with a 1-2 record.