THIRD STRAIGHT WIN. Kawhi Leonard sparks the Los Angeles Clippers’ third consecutive win, drilling in 24 points against the short-handed Miami Heat on Monday night (Tuesday, January 2, Philippine time). L.A. CLIPPERS/NBA PHOTO
Kawhi Leonard made a significant impact, contributing 24 points to lead the Los Angeles Clippers to a 121-104 victory over the short-handed Miami Heat on Monday night (Tuesday, January 2, Philippine time).
The win marked the Clippers’ third consecutive victory, solidifying their strong start to the new year.
The Clippers continued their winning momentum from December, where they boasted an impressive 11-2 record, the best in the Western Conference during that month. Norman Powell provided valuable support off the bench with 22 points, while James Harden added 15 points and 10 assists to the winning effort.
Leonard, who had missed the previous four games due to a hip contusion, returned with a stellar performance. His dunk in the fourth quarter not only contributed to the victory but also marked a personal milestone, reaching 13,000 career points. Despite a slow start, Leonard found his rhythm in the second quarter, scoring 13 points, including a stretch of 10 consecutive points that helped the Clippers erase a 14-point deficit and take a one-point lead at halftime.
Clippers coach Tyronn Lue praised Leonard’s performance, saying that it was good to see him get going.
Harden acknowledged the significance of Leonard’s return, highlighting his impact on both ends of the court. He cited Leonard’s performance in both ends of the ball, “just elite” – his shotmaking, defensively being active, creating opportunities in transition.
Bam Adebayo led the Miami Heat with 21 points and 15 rebounds, putting up a solid effort despite the team missing key players such as Jimmy Butler, Josh Richardson, and Caleb Martin. Butler, dealing with a foot injury sustained in Saturday’s game against Utah, underwent an X-ray that showed no damage, and he will continue to receive treatment. The Heat struggled defensively, with coach Erik Spoelstra emphasizing the need for improvement in 1-on-1 situations.
The third quarter proved pivotal for the Clippers, as they outscored Miami 14-8, extending their one-point lead to 73-63. George’s 8-0 run, including back-to-back 3-pointers, restored a comfortable 10-point lead for the Clippers.
Despite the Heat’s strong start in the first quarter, highlighted by contributions from Duncan Robinson and Kevin Love off the bench, they were unable to maintain their early momentum.
The game featured a homecoming for Jaime Jaquez Jr., who grew up in Camarillo, approximately an hour away. Playing on Mexican Heritage Night, Jaquez felt the support from the crowd, describing it as a “home game” for him.
The Clippers’ victory showcased their resilience and ability to perform at a high level, even in the absence of key players. As they continue their winning streak, the Clippers aim to build on their success and solidify their position as a formidable force in the competitive Western Conference.