Nick Nurse felt the Toronto Raptors did a good job of keeping Kawhi Leonard quiet and outplayed the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday, despite eventually going down to a 98-88 defeat.

Leonard scored 12 points, claimed 11 rebounds and laid on nine assists in his first clash against the Raptors since his departure after playing a huge part in Toronto winning a first NBA title last season.

Nurse had vowed to stay up late and make plans to make life difficult for the NBA Finals MVP after the reigning champions beat the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday.

And the Raptors head coach thought his side were effective in limiting the impact made by Leonard at Staples Center, albeit without reward.

Asked if it was strange seeing Leonard on the other side, Nurse replied: "A little bit.

"We obviously went full guns on all the coverages of him to make life difficult for him and we did a good job on him, but he got some good transition buckets in the fourth, made some big shots for them when they needed him, which is what he does."

Nurse believes the Raptors, who lost OG Anunoby to an eye injury early on, were unfortunate to suffer a loss which leaves them at 7-3 for the season, all three of their defeats coming on the road.

He said of Toronto's performance: "They were good. Our guys played their guts out, we totally outplayed them I thought.

"We were playing harder, we were executing better, we were creating a lot of problems for them but just not quite enough."

 

LeBron James "just loves to hoop", but has acknowledged the importance of only playing when he is fully fit.

James, who turns 35 next month, has enjoyed a stellar, 17-year NBA career across spells at the Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Heat and, currently, the Los Angeles Lakers.

Fellow superstar Kawhi Leonard signed for the Lakers' city rivals the Los Angeles Clippers in the offseason, after helping the Toronto Raptors to the championship in 2018-19.

Three-time All Star Leonard has stressed the importance of "load management" over recent campaigns, and the subject of how much rest should be afforded to NBA players came to the fore again when the 28-year-old sat out the Clippers' recent clash with the Milwaukee Bucks.

However, James - who has clocked up 46,551 regular-season minutes and 10,049 postseason minutes - has insisted his love of basketball means he will always play when possible, but added he has learned to manage his body as his career has gone on.

"Me, personally, if I'm hurt and if I’m not able to play and I feel like I'll hurt my team, then I won't play. That's the [arrangement] me and my coaching staff have always had," 15-time All Star James told Yahoo Sports.

"You can talk to any of my coaches throughout the course of my career. They get mad at me because I don't like sitting down. You can ask anybody.

"They'll be mad as hell at me because I won't sit down. I just love to hoop, but I've also been fortunate enough to take care of my body, except for last year and a couple of years where I maybe had a couple of bumps and bruises or the last game before the season and we're getting ready for the postseason and you'll take that game off, but you're doing that because you don't want to risk anything going into the postseason.

"I just love to hoop, personally."

Nick Nurse vowed to devise a plan to "make life very difficult" for Kawhi Leonard when the Toronto Raptors do battle with the NBA Finals MVP star on Monday.

Leonard left the Raptors to join the Los Angeles Clippers in July after playing a huge part in Toronto's maiden NBA title triumph.

The champions ended the Los Angeles Lakers' seven-match winning streak with a 113-104 victory at Staples Center on Sunday and will come face to face with Leonard for the first time since his departure at the same venue on Monday.

Raptors head coach Nurse is looking forward to catching up with Leonard but is determined to prevent the three-time NBA All-Star from enjoying his evening.

"It's going to great. It was great to see Danny [Green] tonight and it's going to be great to see Kawhi," said Nurse.

"You go [through] something like that where you're all kind of sealed in together, fighting that out for a couple of months – you get a special experience there.

"In saying that, I'm going to stay up late tonight trying to devise some sort of scheme to make life very difficult for him."

Nurse was impressed with the contribution made by players coming off the bench in an impressive defeat of the Lakers, which moved the Raptors to 7-2.

"Those guys did a great job. I think everybody that stepped out there, they didn't only contribute, they played awesome," said Nurse.

"I'll give credit to some of our bench guys. My first unit went out there and was much more solid, I thought we were executing the schemes better.

"We were doubling [Anthony] Davis and doubling LeBron [James], covering up some easy stuff at the rim and then that next crew came in and they really bothered them. 

"I think Rondae [Hollis-Jefferson] bothered them, Chris [Boucher] was protecting the rim, they weren't giving up any second shots. It was a hard-playing group effort."

Los Angeles Clippers star Kawhi Leonard is looking forward to his reunion with reigning NBA champions the Toronto Raptors.

Leonard led the Raptors to their first NBA title last season before leaving Toronto for the Clippers via free agency.

A two-time NBA champion and Finals MVP, Leonard will reunite with the Raptors when the Clippers face Toronto on Monday and he is relishing the clash.

"It's going to be fun to see the guys," Leonard said. "And just congratulate them and be able to shake hands and compete."

Asked what he will remember about his one and only season with the Raptors after being dealt by the San Antonio Spurs, Leonard added: "The guys, the journey. Also the country. The city was amazing. And it's just so much, you can keep going on and talking about it.

"I never went in with a negative mindset. Playing with Cory Joseph in San Antonio, him being from that area in Toronto, I knew what the city kind of brought... I always felt positive with the trade and the front office.

"I knew it was great already with Masai [Ujiri] being in there. So it was never a negative thing, always open-minded about it."

Three-time All-Star Leonard is averaging 29.0 points, 8.1 rebounds and 5.4 assists per game with the Clippers this season.

"It's not like he left in bad terms, really," Clippers head coach Doc Rivers said about Leonard's Raptors exit.

"It's one of those leave-good situations, not one of those leave-awful situations, and let's be honest, in our league it's usually the other way. He's had the rare benefit of being able to leave in a happy state. Has it happened? If it is, it's rare."

Paul George teamed up with Leonard at the Clippers after leaving the Oklahoma City Thunder in the offseason and he could make his debut on Monday.

However, George – who has been recovering from shoulder surgery – is likelier to debut for the Clippers following the Raptors showdown, with games against the Houston Rockets and New Orleans Pelicans to come.

"It's going to take time for conditioning," Rivers said. "You don't not play - when did they lose? - yeah, he hasn't played since April and then you walk in a game in November... it's just not done. I don't know, I doubt he plays [Monday], but it's a possibility. It's possible I may play, too, for that matter. I don't know the answer. I really don't."

Kawhi Leonard was shocked the NBA published details of his knee injury when fining the Los Angeles Clippers for "inconsistent statements" regarding his health.

Los Angeles played without Leonard in their 129-124 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday due to what they called "load management (knee)", but coach Doc Rivers said before the defeat there were no concerns about his fitness.

While the NBA had no issue with the decision to sit the three-time All-Star against the Bucks, the Clippers were handed a $50,000 fine for Rivers' comments.

In a release confirming the sanction ahead of the Clippers' game against the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday, the league revealed Leonard was suffering from "an ongoing injury to the patella tendon in his left knee".

"It was shocking, but it doesn't matter to me. I'm not a guy that reads the media anyway," Leonard, who had 27 points and 13 rebounds in a 107-101 victory over Portland, said of the content in the NBA's statement.

"We're gonna manage it the best way we can to keep me healthy and that's the most important thing moving forward."

On the fine, he added: "That's just disappointing. It feels like they want players to play if they're not ready. But it is what it is.

"Like I said, I don't read into it. I've gotta do what's gonna make me healthy and what's gonna help the team be successful, and that's me being able to play basketball for us.

"That's not what the doctor's subscribing right now [playing in back-to-backs]. That's all I can say about it. We're gonna manage it and just keep moving forward."

The Clippers improved to 6-3 for the season by beating the Trail Blazers at Staples Center, claiming Rivers' 900th win as a coach in the process.

The Los Angeles Clippers were fined $50,000 by the NBA for "inconsistent" statements regarding Kawhi Leonard's health.

Leonard sat out the Clippers' 129-124 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday as his team manage his workload.

However, Clippers head coach Doc Rivers said before the defeat that there was "no concern" about Leonard's health, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The NBA approved the Clippers' decision to manage the 28-year-old, but it fined the team for comments made about Leonard's fitness.

"Following additional review of the LA Clippers not playing Kawhi Leonard in last night's game against the Milwaukee Bucks, the NBA has confirmed that the team's decision to sit Leonard for management of an injury was consistent with league rules," a statement read on Thursday.

"The team has reasonably determined that Leonard is suffering from an ongoing injury to the patella tendon in his left knee and has been placed by the team at this time on an injury protocol for back-to-back games.

"The NBA has fined the Clippers $50,000 for statements, including by head coach Doc Rivers, that were inconsistent with Leonard's health status."

The Clippers are 5-3 and face the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday.

Giannis Antetokounmpo may have been "excited" about facing Kawhi Leonard, but the reigning MVP admitted his life was made easier by the Los Angeles Clippers star's absence in the Milwaukee Bucks' 129-124 success.

Leonard, who joined the Clippers in the offseason after leading the Toronto Raptors to their first NBA title, missed Wednesday's game as he is dealing with a slight knee problem, and Antetokounmpo took full advantage, scoring 38 points and making four of his seven attempts from beyond the arc.

The Clippers are in action again on Thursday against the Portland Trail Blazers, and Leonard has not played on back-to-back nights since April 2017 when he was with the San Antonio Spurs, with both the Raptors and Clippers managing his minutes since.

"Every organisation has their own way that they operate," Antetokounmpo told reporters.

"I was excited to play against one of the best players in the league, I think that brings out the best of you.

"[But] I'm not going to say I was disappointed. If Kawhi was playing, you know you're going to have a tough night. You've got to guard him and score. I'm excited to see him in the future.

"I'm motivated when I play against anybody but obviously when you play against Kawhi - one of the best players in the league - you're going to have a little bit of extra juice in you."

Antetokounmpo's brilliant 2018-19 season led to him winning his first MVP award, and the Greek has started the new campaign in even more impressive fashion.

The 24-year-old is the first player in NBA history with 200 points, 100 rebounds and 50 assists through the first eight games of a season.

"He played the whole fourth quarter and was fabulous," Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer added.

Kawhi Leonard played down being compared to Michael Jordan by Doc Rivers after inspiring the Los Angeles Clippers to a 105-94 victory over the Utah Jazz.

Rivers stated during the play-offs last season that Leonard was "the most like Jordan that we've seen", a compliment that cost him $50,000 for violating the NBA's anti-tampering policy.

The Clippers coach was asked about that statement again at Staples Center on Sunday and replied: "I said there's no body type more like Michael Jordan's than Kawhi, and I actually said because of his hands and his length.

"And I did say part of his game, his in-between game."

Leonard then led the Clippers with 30 points - 18 scored in the final quarter - in a defeat of the Jazz before being quizzed about Rivers' comments.

"Just to be able to get recognised for my talents and where I came a long way to where I am now and just showing my hard work is paying off," said the small forward.

Leonard said taking aggressive approach and not hiding was the key to his final-quarter exploits.

"If you are able to make shots and lead your team to a victory I think it's great. With me it's just about taking advantage of the moment and not shying away." he said.

"Just keep going to your spots and shooting and keep being aggressive for the team.

"That's what I take my pride in, you are not going to make every shot that you shoot to win a game, or every shot in the fourth quarter, so to me it's about keep being aggressive and having fun and see what happens with the results."

LeBron James posted a triple-double as the in-form Los Angeles Lakers topped the San Antonio Spurs 103-96 in NBA action on Sunday.

James record his second successive triple-double courtesy of 21 points, 13 assists and 11 rebounds to lead the Lakers to their fifth consecutive victory.

Star team-mate Anthony Davis chipped in with 25 points and 11 rebounds, while Dwight Howard had 14 points and 13 rebounds for the Lakers – who improved to 5-1.

The Spurs were led by Dejounte Murray's 18 points and 11 rebounds in An Antonio, where Rudy Gay added 16 points off the bench.

Kawhi Leonard put up 30 points as the Los Angeles Clippers defeated the visiting Utah Jazz 105-94 – the home team using a 40-point final quarter to get the win.

Meanwhile, Jimmy Butler impressed in the Miami Heat's 129-100 victory over the Houston Rockets.

Butler had 18 points, nine assists, seven rebounds and four steals for the Heat, who raced out to a 46-14 lead after the opening quarter and never looked back to register a third straight win.

James Harden scored 29 points for Houston, while Russell Westbrook was held to just 10 on three-of-11 shooting.

 

Doncic fuels Mavericks

Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic scored 29 and added 15 assists and 14 rebounds — his second straight triple-double — to key a 131-111 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

 

Porter has game to forget

Chicago Bulls forward Otto Porter Jr. hit one of 10 shots in a 108-95 loss to the Indiana Pacers.

 

Windmill!

De'Aaron Fox stole the ball and had plenty of time to plan the perfect dunk for the Sacramento Kings, who beat the New York Knicks 113-92.

 

Sunday's results

Indiana Pacers 108-95 Chicago Bulls
Miami Heat 129-100 Houston Rockets
Sacramento Kings 113-92 New York Knicks
Los Angeles Lakers 103-96 San Antonio Spurs
Dallas Mavericks 131-111 Cleveland Cavaliers
Los Angeles Clippers 105-94 Utah Jazz

 

76ers at Suns

The Phoenix Suns have been a minor surprise, winning their last two despite the suspension of center Deandre Ayton. The Philadelphia 76ers are still perfect, but have had a couple of close calls against the Atlanta Hawks and Portland Trail Blazers.

Kawhi Leonard haunted his former team as the Los Angeles Clippers topped the previously unbeaten San Antonio Spurs 103-97 in NBA action on Thursday.

Leonard – who spent seven seasons with the Spurs before joining the Toronto Raptors and winning an NBA championship in 2018-19 – dropped 38 points and 12 rebounds in Los Angeles on Halloween.

After sitting out Wednesday's loss to the Utah Jazz due to load management, Leonard returned to snap the Spurs' winning start to the season following three successive wins.

Montrezl Harrell added 24 points for the Clippers, who improved to 4-2 for the season, while DeMar DeRozan led the Spurs with 29 points.

Highly rated prospect Michael Porter Jr made his NBA debut for the Denver Nuggets, who lost 122-107 to the New Orleans Pelicans.

The Nuggets used pick 14 to secure Porter and the 21-year-old capped his Denver bow with 15 points in 20 minutes.

 

Nunn ignites Heat

Miami Heat rookie Kendrick Nunn had 28 points on 10-of-15 shooting in a 106-97 win over the Atlanta Hawks.

 

Hawks' Hunter struggles

Hawks rookie De'Andre Hunter had four points on one-of-nine shooting.

 

Harris dunks on Okafor

Gary Harris threw one down over Jahlil Okafor.

 

Thursday's results

Miami Heat 106-97 Atlanta Hawks
New Orleans Pelicans 122-107 Denver Nuggets
Los Angeles Clippers 103-97 San Antonio Spurs

 

Lakers at Mavericks

The veteran duo of LeBron James and Anthony Davis takes on the up-and-coming pairing of Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis. This game is going to be dynamic.

Doc Rivers limited Kawhi Leonard to 32 minutes as he felt the Los Angeles Clippers never had a chance of continuing their winning start to the NBA season at the Phoenix Suns.

The Clippers defeated rivals the Los Angeles Lakers and then went to the Golden State Warriors and won to begin the campaign, but that run ended with a 130-122 defeat.

Star signing Leonard had been the key in each of their prior victories, and he had 27 points, eight rebounds and 10 assists as the Clippers went down on Saturday.

Rivers revealed Leonard, whose playing time was restricted in the regular season last time out with the Toronto Raptors, could have played 35 minutes if he had thought the game was within their grasp.

"He got hot and made a couple of shots. We tried to keep him in that 30-minute range, 35 – we could have gone to 35 if we'd wanted to," Rivers said.

"Honestly, I didn't think we were going to win the game. We could have kept him in, but 35 is a lot of minutes. We could play him [for] that if we want; I just chose not to.

"I'm not going to keep him out there when we're not playing right as a group. Why keep him out there?"

He added: "We never made a run. It's called a fake run. It's what you do in the NBA.

"You're down by 12, you cut it to seven, everybody thinks you made a run, and then they make a wide-open three – like they've been doing all game – and the run's over. I never thought we were a threat."

Giving an assessment of the game as a whole, Rivers paid tribute to the Suns.

"Listen, even if we had won the game, we had no business winning that game," he said. "They just played so much harder, they were so much more committed to what they were doing.

"In every aspect of the game, I thought they were better. Monty [Williams, Suns coach] did a better job. They just really deserved to win the game.

"I thought offensively – we had, what, eight assists at half-time – we've been a ball-moving team and we didn't move the ball. But give them credit – I thought a lot of that was clearly their ball pressure.

"I thought [Jevon] Carter did an amazing job defensively. He just put pressure on everybody. That's what Proviso East kids do, for the record, and he did it. He was absolutely fabulous. I thought [Devin] Booker kept his composure.

"There were a lot of fouls called. We got a lot of them in the first half and you know the old human nature thing: in the second half, it's going to get even somehow. We had a penalty within two minutes. That was troublesome.

"But other than that, we deserved to lose. We really did. Give them credit."

The Los Angeles Clippers suffered their first defeat of the NBA season after losing 130-122 to the Phoenix Suns.

Kawhi Leonard had led the Clippers to back-to-back wins to start the campaign, however, they went down to the Suns on Saturday.

Devin Booker scored 30 points and Kelly Oubre Jr. added 20 as the Suns snapped a 12-game losing streak to the Clippers.

Leonard put up 27 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds for the visiting Clippers in Phoenix.

The Miami Heat spoiled the Milwaukee Bucks' home opener after prevailing 131-126 in overtime.

Giannis Antetokounmpo's Bucks held a 21-point lead in the third quarter but still lost to the rallying Heat, who were led by Goran Dragic's 25 points off the bench.

Reigning MVP Antetokounmpo finished with 29 points, 17 rebounds and nine assists to go with eight turnovers before fouling out late in overtime.

 

Westbrook surpasses Magic

Houston Rockets star Russell Westbrook passed Magic Johnson for second place on the NBA's all-time triple-doubles list with his 139th. Westbrook had 28 points, 13 assists and 10 rebounds in the 126-123 win over the New Orleans Pelicans.

Trae Young might not have won Rookie of the Year last season, but he might be the NBA's MVP through two games (take that for what you will). The Atlanta Hawks guard scored 39 points while adding nine assists and seven rebounds in a 103-99 win over the Orlando Magic.

Kemba Walker scored 32 points on 11-of-17 shooting in the Boston Celtics' 118-95 victory against the New York Knicks.

 

Osman underwhelms despite Cavs win

Cedi Osman's four-year extension with the Cavaliers netted Cleveland one point and one rebound in 28 minutes in a 110-99 win over the Indiana Pacers.

 

DeRozan dazzles

DeMar DeRozan produced a nice layup through traffic to seal the deal for the San Antonio Spurs with five seconds remaining in a 124-122 win over the Washington Wizards.

Saturday's results

Miami Heat 131-126 Milwaukee Bucks
Philadelphia 76ers 117-111 Detroit Pistons
Atlanta Hawks 103-99 Orlando Magic
Boston Celtics 118-95 New York Knicks
Houston Rockets 126-123 New Orleans Pelicans
Toronto Raptors 108-84 Chicago Bulls
Cleveland Cavaliers 110-99 Indiana Pacers
San Antonio Spurs 124-122 Washington Wizards
Utah Jazz 113-81 Sacramento Kings
Phoenix Suns 130-122 Los Angeles Clippers

 

Trail Blazers at Mavericks

The Kristaps Porzingis era is off to a great start in Dallas as the Mavericks are unbeaten through two games. But Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard has come out strong, too, and he presents a very interesting backcourt matchup opposite Luka Doncic.

The Golden State Warriors' first NBA game at Chase Center ended in defeat as the Kawhi Leonard-led Los Angeles Clippers stayed unbeaten.

After 47 years at Oracle Arena in Oakland, the Warriors relocated to neighbouring San Francisco in the offseason.

But their first competitive game in San Francisco did not go according to plan following Thursday's 141-122 loss to the Clippers.

Even without Paul George, the Clippers looked great on both sides of the court as Leonard, Lou Williams and Patrick Patterson all finished with 20 or more points to preserve Los Angeles' perfect start after two games.

Stephen Curry and D'Angelo Russell were good for the Warriors, but Russell did not do much after scoring the Warriors' first 10 points and Curry struggled shooting the ball throughout the game, going two of 11 from three-point range.

Reigning NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, meanwhile, became the first player in Milwaukee Bucks history to record a triple-double in a season opener.

Antetokounmpo – the first player since Oscar Robertson in 1966 with a 30-point triple-double in a season opener – finished with 30 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists as the Bucks overcame a 16-point half-time deficit to beat the Houston Rockets 117-111.

Every single Milwaukee starter finished in double digits in scoring, while Russell Westbrook led the Rockets with 24 points and 16 rebounds in his Houston debut. 

 

Young stars as Hawks fly high

Trae Young had 38 points, nine assists and seven rebounds in the Atlanta Hawks' 117-100 win over the Detroit Pistons.

 

Reddish and Harden struggle

Cam Reddish's rookie year is off to a tough shooting start. He scored one point on 0-of-six shooting, including 0 of five from three-point range. He did have seven rebounds, though.

James Harden scored 19 points, but the Rockets star went two-of-13 shooting in the loss to the Bucks.

 

Harden and Westbrook reunite

Harden and Westbrook look like they will at least be fun together in Houston.

 

Thursday's results

Atlanta Hawks 117-100 Detroit Pistons
Milwaukee Bucks 117-111 Houston Rockets
Los Angeles Clippers 141-122 Golden State Warriors

 

Jazz at Lakers

Two teams that added big pieces this offseason face off in Los Angeles on Friday. Mike Conley joins Donovan Mitchell in the Utah Jazz's backcourt, while Anthony Davis teams up with LeBron James and the Lakers. And that is not even the half of it as Danny Green, Bojan Bogdanovic (who may be hurt), Quinn Cook and Dwight Howard are all finding their way with new teams. 

Kawhi Leonard was filled with emotion as he described an "amazing" return to Los Angeles after leading the Clippers to victory over the Lakers on the NBA's opening night.

Without Paul George, the Clippers won 112-102 against a Lakers team containing LeBron James and Anthony Davis at Staples Center.

Leonard produced an influential performance, as a game-high 30 points came with six rebounds, five assists, two steals and a block.

He was heavily booed by Lakers fans after turning down the chance to join the team in favour of joining their city rivals.

But Leonard, who won the NBA title with the Toronto Raptors last year, provided the perfect answer, hitting seven straight shots at one stage as the Clippers scored 40 points in the second quarter.

"All those emotions went through me again," Leonard said of his Clippers debut back in his hometown.

"Once I'm playing the game, I'm locked in. But before the game last night there were a lot of emotions, knowing my family was going to be here and that I'm going to be playing here at Staples, my hometown – it's just amazing.

"It was great, a lot of emotions, game one. I'm just happy we came out and got a victory. We played a great practice the last week, everyone competing and pushing everybody's limits and we had some carry over.

"I just made shots pretty much. I felt like I got to my spots early, missed some little chippies but started making shots. That's what happens."

Lakers fans targeted Leonard with boos when the lineups were announced and again as he attempted to address the Clippers' fans before the game.

"I just heard a loud noise," he said. "I was just trying to be as loud as I can. I wasn't sure if the Clipper fans were being loud or if it was the Laker fans.

"I didn't pay attention to it too much. I was just trying to let the fans know the appreciation we have for them for coming out."

Clippers coach Doc Rivers was impressed by Leonard's first outing, while also recognising the importance of the bench, who outscored the Lakers' second unit 60-19.

"He talks with his game," Rivers said of Leonard. "I think that's the way it should be. It's a great sign of leadership.

"He was intense. You could feel the intensity, there's no doubt about that. And this bench is going to be better this year than even last year."

Leonard, who was 10-of-19 shooting in 32 minutes, added: "These guys were a playoff team last year, they fight hard every single night. We are not going to stop just because I'm here or Paul's here.

"We're missing a couple more pieces still, with Paul and a great defender Rodney [McGruder] too."

The Clippers have another high-profile game up next, on the road against the Golden State Warriors on Thursday.

Kahwi Leonard led the Los Angeles Clippers past LeBron James' Los Angeles Lakers on the NBA's opening night.

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