Kawhi Leonard, Clippers take win over Lakers in stride

first_img“Whatever it takes to win, if it’s me guarding him or me guarding someone else and switching on him, I always love the contest,” Leonard said. “He’s a great player and playing on Christmas, it was fun.”Paul George, who made just 5 of his 18 attempts and finished with 17 points, tipped his hat to his star colleague after the game.“Kawhi was special,” George said. “He won us the game. He led us … He had great challenges on (Anthony Davis), bodying him up, and great presence on LeBron, some big-time rebounds.“You all know Kawhi Leonard. He did it tonight.” For Lakers’ LeBron James, Jacob Blake’s shooting is bigger issue than a big Game 4 victory Clippers hope they can play to their capabilities, quell Mavericks’ momentum What the Clippers are saying the day after Luka Doncic’s game-winner tied series, 2-2 Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error Rivers said he appreciated and enjoyed the intensity both teams brought to the proceedings, but when it was over, he too shrugged it off.“I said during the game it’s going to be a great game and it’s going to be fun, it’s going to be with more intensity, but now that the game is over? Yeah, it’s just another game,” Rivers said. “Because you don’t get anything for this. There’s no trophy and it’s just a win and a win against a Western Conference opponent – which is good.”About that last point – basketball bookkeepers will note the Clippers did gain something tangible from the victory: They now are 2-0 against the Lakers, which guarantees no worse than a split in the season series and gives them the divisional record tiebreaker lead.center_img Game 4 photos: Luka Doncic, Mavs shock Clippers in overtime Clippers’ Paul George: ‘If I make shots, this series could be a little different’ GREEN ON CHRISTMASThe Lakers still had the Clippers at arm’s length, 80-73 with 3:22 to go in the third quarter, when JaMychal Green reported to the scorer’s table to check in for the first time.Almost immediately, his presence helped turn the game in the Clippers’ direction: He quickly found Leonard for a 3-pointer that cut the deficit to four. Green later grabbed a rebound and drained a 3-pointer from 26 feet, which closed the shrinking gap to three points.Rivers said fans would have seen Green – who returned from a back contusion just one game prior – earlier on Christmas if the coach hadn’t been toying with his team’s minutes rotation to try to get George on the floor more early on.“We were going to play (Green) in the first half to be honest, and PG, I wanted to get him back in earlier, so I just went away from it,” Rivers said. “In retrospect, it was a terrible decision. I should have played him in the first half because he was terrific for us.“I was hesitant with him because he had only played one game back and so we went back and forth, but I really messed the rotations back up when I put PG back in that early; that would have been JaMychal’s minutes. I just thought I needed to get PG in and I needed to get Kawhi out. I just should have stayed with the rotation that we usually stay with.”In his seven minutes on the court, Green finished with three points, three assists and a pair of rebounds.NO CROWThe Clippers (23-10) got the memo after Wednesday’s win, in which they improved to 12-3 when Leonard and George play and 2-0 against their intracity rivals.It was, they all said, “just another game.”Even Beverley, the Clippers’ ferocious pest, insisted as much: “Just another game. Just fortunate to play on Christmas.”“I’m just happy that we got a road win today,” said Leonard, whose Clippers now are 9-8 on the road. “All the ‘Battle of L.A.’ is for the fans and for people that’s watching. That’s not our mindset.”Related Articles LOS ANGELES — Clippers coach Doc Rivers talks often about players who are “stars in their role,” guys who do what’s asked of them, such as Moe Harkless with his versatile defensive chops or Ivica Zubac with his big-bodied rim protection.On the big Christmas Day stage Wednesday, Kawhi Leonard – cast as the Clippers’ leading superstar – absolutely was a star in his role.Leonard’s steady excellence buoyed the Clippers in their 111-106 victory over the “host” Lakers at Staples Center. He finished with a game-high 35 points and 12 rebounds. He shot 11 for 19, including 5 for 7 from 3-point range. He added five assists in 38 minutes and finished plus-15, best on the team beside Patrick Beverley’s telling plus-26 in the box score.He also played stellar defense on LeBron James, defending the King for 4 minutes, 47 seconds of game action, according to NBA Advanced Stats Player Tracking. In that span, the Lakers scored only seven points and the four-time league MVP was limited to one point, making one of two from the free-throw line but missing both of his attempts from the field – both from beyond the arc.last_img

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