The Los Angeles Clippers displayed its versatility on both sides of the ball which resulted in their best performance of the season.
Kawhi Leonard showed flashes of his former All-Star level play while converting 10 of 12 shots for 25 points, nine rebounds, and six assists to help lead the Clippers to an emphatic 113-93 win over the Boston Celtics on Monday at Crypto.com Arena.
“The last couple games, he’s just playing with more pace,” Clippers coach Ty Lue said of Leonard. “The longer stretches have definitely helped him get into a more of a rhythm, offensively and defensively.
Paul George continued to play well after returning from a hamstring injury and finished with 26 points, six rebounds, and three assists, leading the Clippers in scoring for a third consecutive game.
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With the win, Los Angeles improved to 16-13 and have won seven of the last 10 meetings against Boston. The Celtics who hold the best record in the league at 21-7, were held under 100 points for the first time this season.
“We did a great job pretty much across the whole board,” George said. “We got great shots. We shared the ball, we took care of the ball, we played defense. I thought our help side, our activity defensively was great.”
The Clippers moved to 6-1 on the season when Leonard is in the starting lineup as he continues to play on a minutes restriction.
“It’s only my ninth game of the season and that’s after a whole ACL year, just can’t rush it… I wish I could have played more,” Leonard said.
“That’s the same Kawhi. He’s just playing more. Getting more reps,” George said.
Celtics stars Jayson Tatum finished with 20 points and 11 rebounds while Jaylen Brown had 21 points along with four rebounds and two steals.
The Clippers forced the Celtics into 15 turnovers as well as 23 percent shooting from long range on only nine makes.
“I thought defensively we were really, really good,” Lue said.
“We made a conscious effort to make sure Tatum and Brown played in a crowd all night,” Lue added.
The Clippers used a 20-3 run in the first quarter to jump out to an early 28-16 lead before the Celtics closed out the period to trail by only four, 29-25.
Marcus Morris had 13 points and Luke Kennard added 12, making two three-pointers for the Clippers.
“It’s a very talented team right here. A lot of guys can score and shoot the basketball. So I got to make sure that we all are able to show our talents out there,” Leonard added.
Los Angeles outrebounded Boston (46-36) and led 56-47 at halftime.
The Clippers led by as many as 18 in the third after a John Wall pull-up jump shot, giving LA an 88-70 advantage with 32 seconds remaining.
Leonard made back-to-back baskets in the fourth to give the Clippers a commanding 104-80 lead with 6:44 left and the Celtics were unable to ignite a late comeback.
“I think give credit to the Clippers. They came out and played great, I think that was probably one of the best games they played all year,” said Brown.
The Clippers will next host the Minnesota Timberwolves (13-14) on Wednesday evening and the Phoenix Suns (16-11) on Thursday night at 7:00 p.m.