NBA

Leonard finding his rhythm as Clippers extend winning streak

By Sports Desk December 12, 2023

Kawhi Leonard impressed again as the Los Angeles Clippers won their fourth straight NBA game on Monday.

The Clippers held off the short-handed Portland Trail Blazers 132-127 to record their ninth win in their last 12 games, a nice recovery from their six-game losing streak at the start of November.

Leonard now has 75 points in his last two games after scoring a team-high 34 against Portland.

There were also key contributions from Paul George (20 points, eight rebounds and eight assists) and James Harden (20 points, seven rebounds and seven assists).

Portland – playing without Deandre Ayton and Malcolm Brogdon – suffered a fourth straight loss despite a career-high 38 points from Anfernee Simons.

Asked about Leonard, Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said: "The biggest thing is health and finally getting his rhythm with PG and James starting."

Los Angeles had a 14-point lead late in the first quarter but ultimately had to work hard for the victory.

The Blazers twice held a one-point lead in the closing stages of the fourth quarter having hit a season-high 19 3-pointers in the game.

"I knew it was going to be a tough game for us," added Lue, whose team are now 12-10, eighth in the Western Conference.

"Defensively, we couldn't get stops. They scored every way."

The Clippers are immediately back in action on Tuesday at home against the Sacramento Kings (13-8) to complete a back-to-back.

Leonard had a season-high 41 points in their previous win against the Utah Jazz.

"Offensively the team is in a good rhythm and that is all I care about," Leonard said.

"The ball found me and I made shots. I have played a lot of minutes over the last few games but sometimes you have to. When your best players play longer, you’ll most likely get the win.

"It is about knowing what we are doing and having clarity, using our experience, not being complacent.

"There is still a lot we’re lacking. On defense we didn't play that well. They are a team with great defenders who can turn you over a lot so we were focused on screening hard."

Harden echoed Leonard's view that there is still plenty of work to do.

"We take what the defense gives us, figure it out and attack," he said.

"If you share the ball, you get good results, but it wasn’t as easy as we’d like it to be. We don't have the luxury of overlooking opponents."

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