Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard (2) finished with 31 points through three quarters in a 119-99 win over the Sacramento Kings Tuesday, December 12. 2023 (Courtesy photo)

Kawhi Leonard has looked like the player that is regarded as one of the top stars in the league in recent play, proving he is feeling like his old self.

“Just being healthy has been good,” said Leonard, who had a cleanup procedure on June 6 to repair a torn meniscus during last season’s first-round series against Phoenix. The two-time NBA Finals Most Valuable Player also tore his ACL over two years ago but had restrictions or setbacks coming into the season after the recent meniscus injury.

Leonard tallied 106 points from December 8-12. He scored another 31 in three quarters on an ultra-efficient 11-for-14 shooting performance as the Los Angeles Clippers routed the Sacramento Kings 119-99 on Tuesday evening at Crypto.com Arena.

“Kawhi’s main thing is just let’s play the right way every single night,” Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said, “and when we’re not doing that he’s very vocal about it.”

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Los Angeles has now won six straight and 11 of their last 14 while improving to 14-10 on the year. The Kings fell to 13-9 on the season with the loss.

“Just chemistry, playing together,” said Leonard on what has led to the Clippers winning streak. “Getting clarity. Knowing what to expect coming into games. I think that’s what the biggest thing is.”

The Clippers held the Kings to 27 percent shooting from three and 42 percent from the field while Los Angeles scored 20 points off 14 Sacramento turnovers.

“We’re locked in defensively,” said Lue. “That’s where it all starts for us. When we’re getting stops and getting out in transition, we’re a hard team to beat.”

James Harden finished with 15 points, seven assists, and six rebounds and Norman Powell added 15 points off the bench for the Clippers. Terance Mann also had 10 for Los Angeles.

Paul George finished with nine points and two steals but did not play in the second half due to left groin soreness after diving on the floor for a loose ball in the first half. Lue did say after the game that George could have returned to the lineup if needed.

“I didn’t like that,” Lue said, mentioning his star’s recent shoulder surgeries. “It just shows you these guys want to win.”

Keegan Murray led the Kings with 17 points and Domantas Sabonis finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds. De’Aaron Fox was held in check and had 14 points as Sacramento dropped their first regular season game in December.

“We got our behinds kicked and that’s twice by this team and we had no answers,” Kings coach Mike Brown said. “The thing that’s most concerning is sometimes you just got to fight and tonight we didn’t fight. That’s the biggest takeaway from this game.”

The Clippers grabbed momentum from the jump after leading 32-24 through the first 12 minutes of play before ultimately increasing their lead to 70-48 at halftime, shooting 59.1 percent from the field and converting eight three-pointers.

Leonard scored 14 of his 31 in the third period as Los Angeles extended their lead to as many as 33, 99-66 before heading into the fourth as the Clippers were able to rest most of their starters before preparing to close out their four-game homestand against the Warriors and Knicks on Thursday and Saturday.

“The biggest thing for me [has been] just staying with it,” Lue said. “I think early on it was tough for us just trying to figure out how we wanted to play, trying to figure out rotations and all the different things and how James, PG, Kawhi, Russell [Westbrook] could all play together. Once we figured that out, and just the guys having constant dialogue after practice, before practice, James grabbing Kawhi and PG after practice going through some plays… Everyday just continuing to try to get better.”