Kawhi leads charge as Clippers cool off Heat

Agence France-Presse
Kawhi leads charge as Clippers cool off Heat
Kawhi Leonard notches his first NBA career triple-double as the Clippers become only the second team this season to beat the Heat at home

LOS ANGELES, USA – Kawhi Leonard recorded his first NBA career triple-double with 33 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists as the Los Angeles Clippers handed the Miami Heat a rare home loss with a 122-117 victory.

Leonard, who was named an NBA All-Star starter for the fourth time the day before, erupted for 17 third-quarter points to show the way in the win on Friday, January 24 (Thursday, January 24, Manila time).

He now has 7 straight 30-point-plus games.

Clippers guard Landry Shamet had 22 points as Los Angeles went from down 6 points to up 15 in the game-changing 3rd quarter. The Clippers had trailed by 15 at one point in the 1st period. 

Jimmy Butler had a team-high 20 points for the Heat, who entered the game with the NBA’s best home record at 20-1.

He also tallied 8 rebounds and 7 assists before going out with a right-ankle injury in the 4th quarter. 

The Heat’s only home losses this season have come against Los Angeles teams – they lost to the Lakers on December 13.

Elsewhere, Nikola Jokic had 27 points and 12 rebounds as the Denver Nuggets beat the New Orleans Pelicans, 113-106, nullifying a second-straight strong performance by No. 1 draft pick Zion Williamson.

Williamson had 15 points and 6 rebounds in 21 playing minutes two nights after scoring 22 points in his long-awaited NBA debut. Williamson shot 7-of-9 from the field against the Nuggets.

“There’s nothing wrong with what we’re doing,” said Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry on Williamson’s limited playing time. 

“I hear every night that I’m the dumbest coach in the world. ‘Why would I take the guy out in the last 5 minutes?'”

“I’ll live with that knowing we’re doing the right thing.”

The Pelicans dropped to 0-2 since the NBA’s future star was activated for the first time this season on Wednesday.

“I am out here doing everything I can to help my team win,” said Williamson. “I am not going to sugar coat nothing. They outrebounded us.”

Jokic, Michael Porter, and Torrey Craig all finished with double-doubles in the win in front of a crowd of 16,300 at Smoothie King Center arena. 

Porter had 15 points and 10 rebounds, while Craig had 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Nuggets, who had a 56-45 rebounding advantage. 

Jerami Grant added 14 points, Will Barton had 13, and Monte Morris and Malik Beasley scored 10 each. 

JJ Redick led the Pelicans with 18 points, Josh Hart added 15, Brandon Ingram scored 13, Jrue Holiday 12, and E’Twaun Moore 10. 

Coach ejected

Nuggets coach Michael Malone was ejected from the game in the 3rd quarter for arguing a foul call against Grant. 

Elsewhere, Russell Westbrook delivered a season-high 45 points to power the Houston Rockets to a 131-124 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves in Minneapolis. 

Westbrook scored 27 second-half points and dominated down the stretch to help the Rockets fend off the Timberwolves, who attempted to rally behind Karl-Anthony Towns’ 30 points.

Andrew Wiggins finished with 28 points as Minnesota lost their eighth straight game.

Houston’s James Harden missed all 6 of his three-point attempts and scored a season-low 12 points. – Rappler.com

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