LOS ANGELES, USA – Well-rested Kawhi Leonard scored 18 of his 27 points in the 4th quarter as the Los Angeles Clippers beat the Portland Trail Blazers, 107-101, Thursday, November 7 (Friday, November 8, Philippine time) in the NBA.
Leonard's night off against the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday didn't appear to be paying dividends as he got off to a slow start against the Trail Blazers, scoring just 7 points in a first half in which Lou Williams' 14 points helped the Clippers take a 47-40 lead into the interval.
Portland outscored Los Angeles, 36-23, in the 3rd quarter to take a 76-70 lead into the 4th – when they briefly pushed the advantage to 8 points.
The Clippers held on, Leonard's pull-up shot with 2:40 remaining putting them up 94-93.
The Clippers wouldn't trail again, and Leonard drained 4 straight free throws to close it out, giving coach Doc Rivers the 900th victory of his career.
"When the pressure came, we didn't break, we just kept pushing," said Leonard, who was the focus of attention after sitting out the Clippers' loss to reigning Most Valuable Player Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks.
His absence, to manage his workload in view of a sore knee, was backed by the league.
But hours before tip-off on Thursday, the league fined the Clippers $50,000 for contradictory statements on Leonard's fitness.
In announcing the fine, the NBA said they still thought Leonard's absence Wednesday conformed to league rules, but officials were irked that Rivers told reporters that it was "not a health thing really."
Leonard was certainly feeling well enough after Thursday's win.
"I feel good – we just won a basketball game," he said. – Rappler.com