Kawhi Leonard more than picked up the slack for the Los Angeles Clippers while six-time All-Star Paul George was sidelined for the past three games with a strained left hamstring. But it shouldn’t be much of a surprise since Leonard is considered by many as the NBA’s best player.
George will sit out again Thursday when the Clippers play host to the Orlando Magic.
Leonard was at the top of his game Tuesday against the visiting Cleveland Cavaliers, torching them with a season-high 43 points in 29 minutes in a 128-103 Clippers victory. Leonard, who fell two points shy of his career high, converted 14 of 22 shots from the floor and 6 of 10 3-point attempts before resting for the entire fourth quarter.
Leonard has averaged 36.3 points per game during George’s absence.
“When Kawhi is that efficient, it’s pretty impressive to watch,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers told reporters after the Cleveland game.
Leonard’s performance was one of several strong ones that allowed the Clippers to seize a 16-point lead at the break and clinch the win with a dominant third quarter. But the team’s depth has been a strength for much of the season.
Lou Williams scored 24 points on 10-of-13 shooting, Ivica Zubac added 12 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks, and Patrick Beverley delivered a solid outing with 10 points, seven rebounds and nine assists. Landry Shamet and Montrezl Harrell contributed 12 points apiece for Los Angeles.
“Zu was phenomenal,” Rivers said. “Zu, Kawhi and Pat Beverley … really, the entire starting lineup. But they all did what they do. Like Zu was a star in his role and what he does. Sham was a star in his role, Pat was a star in his role. Like whatever the roles they have, which we know, they all starred in them, and that a pretty good thing for your team.”
Markelle Fultz was more than pretty good for the Magic on Wednesday in a 119-118 road win over the Los Angeles Lakers.
Fultz recorded his second career triple-double with 21 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists to help the Magic snap the Lakers’ nine-game winning streak.
“A big milestone (for me),” Fultz said, according to the Orlando Sentinel. “I get a triple-double but the biggest thing is we came in here and got a win.”
Aaron Gordon also scored 21 points, and Wes Iwundu and Nikola Vucevic each scored 19 points for the Magic, who have won four of their past five. The point total was a career high for Iwundu.
Terrence Ross added 15 points off the Orlando bench.
The Magic held on after building a 20-point lead in the first half and a 21-point advantage in the third quarter.
Fultz hit two key buckets down the stretch to lift the Magic, who prevailed despite playing without leading scorer Evan Fournier, out with a right quad contusion.
Before the visit to Los Angeles, Fournier said the Magic would be tested by facing the Lakers and Clippers on consecutive nights.
“That’s a terrible road trip,” said Fournier, according to the Sentinel. “We only come to L.A. once, and we usually have a little bit of time (between games). I think it’s the first time since I’ve been with the Magic that we have a back-to-back like that. It’s hard. It’s hard, but that’s the NBA and you have to be ready for any challenges.”
–Field Level Media