NBA: Kawhi Leonard scores 38, Clippers stun Suns in Game 1 | Inquirer Sports

NBA: Kawhi Leonard scores 38, Clippers stun Suns in Game 1

/ 11:55 AM April 17, 2023

Kawhi Leonard Clippers NBA

Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix Suns and Kawhi Leonard #2 of the LA Clippers dive for a loose ball during the first half Game One of the Western Conference First Round Playoffs at Footprint Center on April 16, 2023 in Phoenix, Arizona. Christian Petersen/Getty Images/AFP

Kawhi Leonard poured in 38 points during his first playoff game in 22 months to lead the Los Angeles Clippers to a 115-110 victory over the host Phoenix Suns on Sunday night in Game 1 of their Western Conference first-round series.

Leonard was 13 of 24 from the field and added five rebounds and five assists in his first postseason contest since tearing the ACL in his right knee against the Utah Jazz in June 2021. Eric Gordon added 19 points for the fifth-seeded Clippers.

Kevin Durant had 27 points, 11 assists and nine rebounds in his first playoff game for the fourth-seeded Suns. It marked the first time Phoenix lost in nine games with Durant on the court.


Devin Booker scored 26 points, Torrey Craig added 22 and Deandre Ayton had 18 points and eight rebounds for the Suns.

Game 2 is Tuesday night in Phoenix.

With the Clippers leading by three, Russell Westbrook blocked the shot of a driving Booker and then leaped to get the ball and slam it off Booker’s left leg and out of bounds with 10.1 seconds left to give Los Angeles possession. Gordon sealed the contest with two free throws with 7.9 seconds left.


Los Angeles played without Paul George (knee).

Norman Powell scored 14 points, Ivica Zubac added 12 points and 15 rebounds and Westbrook contributed nine points, 10 rebounds, eight assists, three blocks and two steals.


Leonard’s basket and Terance Mann’s three-point play gave the Clippers a 100-96 lead with 4:47 left in the contest. Craig’s three-point play 30 seconds later brought Phoenix within one.

Leonard made two 3-pointers and Gordon added one during a 9-4 run that gave Los Angeles a 109-103 lead with 1:33 left. But Durant buried a trey and Chris Paul made two free throws as the Suns pulled within 109-108 with 1:08 remaining.

Westbrook made two free throws with 17.7 seconds left to make it a three-point margin prior to his stellar defensive play.

The Suns made 47.6 percent of their field-goal attempts, including 6 of 19 from 3-point range. Paul had 11 rebounds and 10 assists but tallied just seven points.

Los Angeles hit 44.1 percent of its shots and was 10 of 31 from behind the arc.

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The Suns recovered from a 16-point, second-quarter deficit to trail 59-54 at the half.

Los Angeles led 68-62 with 8:37 left in the third quarter before Phoenix ripped off 15 consecutive points, giving the Suns a 77-68 advantage with 4:42 remaining.

The Clippers answered with an 11-2 spurt and tied the game at 79 on Powell’s jumper with 46.7 seconds left in the period. The score was knotted at 81 entering the final stanza.


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TAGS: Kawhi Leonard, Los Angeles Clippers

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