Kawhi's 30 propels Clippers to 111-96 win over Hornets
ABS-CBN Sports on Oct 29, 2019 01:09 PM
Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard, front, goes up for a shot in front of Charlotte Hornets center Bismack Biyombo during the first half an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Monday, Oct. 28, 2019. (AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo)
By Greg Beacham, Associated Press
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Kawhi Leonard had 30 points, seven rebounds and six assists, and Lou Williams scored 23 points one day after his 33rd birthday in the Los Angeles Clippers' 111-96 victory over the Charlotte Hornets on Monday night (Tuesday, PHL time).
Montrezl Harrell scored eight of his 19 points in the fourth quarter, and Landry Shamet added 16 in the Clippers' third win in four games to start a season with championship aspirations.
After following up their impressive season-opening victories over the Lakers and the Warriors with a shocking 130-122 loss to the Phoenix Suns two days ago, the Clippers managed to play enough defense to secure a comfortable win over young Charlotte.
Terry Rozier had 17 points to lead six Hornets scoring in double figures in the second game of a four-game trip. Devonte Graham had 14 points and 12 assists, while Cody Zeller added 14 points and 13 rebounds for Charlotte, which has lost three straight after a season-opening win over Chicago.
The Clippers pulled away with a 16-5 run spanning the final two quarters, stretching their lead to 96-79 with 7 1/2 minutes to play. Charlotte made an 11-2 surge, cutting the lead to single digits on Miles Bridges' 3-pointer with 4:16 left, but Harrell and Williams made big shots down the stretch.
The Clippers have won 10 straight over the Hornets at Staples Center since February 2009. Los Angeles has won 10 of its last 11 overall against Charlotte.
Charlotte appeared to have more favorable defensive matchups against these Staples Center co-tenants than they did one night earlier, when LeBron James and Anthony Davis led the Lakers to a comfortable win in the second half.
But not many teams have an answer for Leonard, who has added improved playmaking skills to his already formidable offensive arsenal.
Two days after setting a career high with 10 assists in Phoenix -- which surpassed his previous career high of nine, set two days before that against Golden State -- he had five in the first half against Charlotte, including a sublime bounce pass through traffic to Ivica Zubac shortly before halftime.
But LA's defensive flaws exposed in Phoenix were obvious again, with the Hornets getting balanced scoring and plenty of open opportunities. The Clippers will need more time to jell as a defensive unit, but coach Doc Rivers simply hopes for increased effort on that end over the next few games.
Hornets: Zeller sported a bandage on the cut above his left eye from his mutual elbowing with Davis in their loss to the Lakers on Sunday night (Monday, PHL time). ... Malik Monk scored 15 points.
Clippers: Shamet surpassed his season high with four 3-pointers in the first six minutes of the game. ... Paul George is still out while he recovers from a shoulder injury, but coach Doc Rivers said he consults frequently with his newest star about potential offensive sets that will benefit him when he is ready to play.
Hornets: Visit the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time).
Clippers: Visit the Utah Jazz on Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time).