Leonard scores 32, Clippers beat Thunder without George
By BETH HARRIS
LOS ANGELES (AP) Kawhi Leonard scored 32 points on 15 shots, and the Los Angeles Clippers defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder 127-105 on Thursday night in their first game since losing Paul George to a knee injury.
It was the Clippers' first blowout win since late January.
“This was a really good win for us,” coach Tyronn Lue said. “We needed it.”
George sprained his right knee in the closing minutes of a 101-100 loss to the Thunder two nights earlier. He’ll be re-evaluated in two to three weeks, likely keeping him out of the remainder of the regular season which ends April 9.
“We got to handle our business on the floor and keep tallying wins for PG,” said Bones Hyland, who led the bench with 16 points in his first game action since March 3.
The Clippers closed the third quarter with a 27-12 run, including 10 in a row, to lead 92-80 going into the fourth.
They made seven consecutive 3-pointers over the end of the third and start of the fourth, with Nicolas Batum and Hyland hitting three each. Leonard had the other trey in pushing the Clippers' lead to 101-85.
The Clippers kept it up, sinking another three 3-pointers in a row, capped by one from Russell Westbrook that extended their lead to 114-89. They outscored the Thunder 35-25 in the fourth.
Los Angeles shot 49% from 3-point range, with Batum and Hyland making four each.
Westbrook added 24 points and seven assists for the Clippers.
“We played with a lot of pace,” Westbrook said. “Played fast, especially in the second half.”
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander led the Thunder with 30 points. Josh Giddey added 18 and Jalen Williams had 16.
“He was still efficient,” Leonard said of former Clipper Gilgeous-Alexander. “All we could do is try to make it tougher on him.”
The Clippers’ bench outscored the Thunder’s reserves, 51-30.
“They did a great job coming in and providing energy,” Leonard said.
Thunder: Outscored the Clippers 46-38 in the paint.
Clippers: Westbrook scored 12 points in the second quarter. ... Eric Gordon joined the starting lineup in place of George. ... Beat the Thunder for the first time in three games this season.
Thunder: Stay in Los Angeles to play the Lakers on Saturday to finish a back-to-back.
Clippers: Host New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday.
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Updated March 24, 2023