Two days after coming off one of their most surprising performances of the season, the Los Angeles Clippers bounced back in dominant fashion after falling to the San Antonio Spurs.
Newly acquired Hollywood stars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George combined for 65 points and the Clippers went on to thrash the Washington Wizards 150-125 on Sunday night at Staples Center in front of a sold-out crowd of 19,068.
Leonard scored 34 points in 26 minutes, while George scored 27 of his 31 in the first half, helping L.A. improve to a franchise-best 12-1 record at home.
“It’s those new shoulders. He’s just a great shooter,” Rivers said of George’s play since returning in mid-November from surgery. “He’s shooting deep shots on the move and does it with great balance.”
Los Angeles (15-6) proved to be the aggressors throughout the game, making 32 of 40 attempts from the charity stripe while holding a monstrous 82-57 halftime lead.
“We went downhill,” Rivers added. “I thought we settled a lot in San Antonio. “When we go downhill and get in the paint, we’re clearly very good.”
Montrezl Harrell had 23 points and a career-high 15 rebounds, Lou Williams had 22 and converted eight of nine free throws to go along with eight assists.
“We’ve got three guys that are averaging over 20 points a game in their last three seasons, then you have [Harrell] who’s coming into his own, he’s averaging nearly 20 points a game as well,” Williams said. “We’ve come from three different teams where we’re used to having the basketball in our hands. You put all those things together, you’ve got to kind of take a back seat to other guys at certain times of the game.”
Wizards rookie forward Rui Hachimura led the way with 30 points, making 13 of 23 shots while Bradley Beal added 23 and 11 assists.
The Clippers ultimately held the Wizards to 46 percent shooting, while Los Angeles shot 55.3 and dominated points in the paint, (66-46).
“Right now, it doesn’t seem like we want it enough. We have no pride,” said Wizards guard Isaiah Thomas, who finished with 16 points off the bench. “It doesn’t matter if Michael Jordan is on the other side, you gotta wanna win, you gotta wanna compete and I don’t think we’re always like that.”
Nonetheless, Washington (6-12) did compete in the third quarter briefly and cut their deficit to 13, 98-85 with 4:17 remaining thanks to a 28-13 run. But it would not last, as Harrell and Williams combined to score 12 of the next 18 points to give the Clippers an 18-point advantage to end the period.
“We’re pretty good once we’re clicking,” Williams added. “Every once in a while, you kind of see glimpses where guys are on the same page.”
In the fourth, Leonard continued his stellar play when he single handedly took control of the game, scoring 11 of Los Angeles’ first 20 points. The Wizards had no answer and saw its deficit balloon back to 31 points, 138-107 after Leonard buried a three-pointer with six minutes remaining, allowing the Clippers to close out the game for a 150-125 victory.
“Tonight, we just wanted to come out here and play the game through and through, the right way,” Harrell said.
The Clippers next host the Portland Trailblazers (8-12) on Tuesday, December 3, where tip-off is scheduled for 7:00 PM at Staples Center.