Monday 16 December, 2019

NBA Wrap: Leonard, Clippers overcome Raptors as Celtics win again

Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard, right, shoots over Toronto Raptors center Marc Gasol during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Monday, Nov. 11, 2019. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson).

Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard, right, shoots over Toronto Raptors center Marc Gasol during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Monday, Nov. 11, 2019. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson).

Kawhi Leonard wasn't at his best against his former team. His new teammates knocked down big shots and won anyway.

Leonard struggled on 2-for-11 shooting and had nine turnovers, but Lou Williams led a big effort from the bench with 21 points and the Los Angeles Clippers beat the defending NBA champion Toronto Raptors 98-88 on Monday night.

Leonard finished with 12 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists to go with those nine turnovers, prompting Clippers coach Doc Rivers to joke about "almost a quadruple-double."

Throughout the game, Leonard faced plenty of double coverage.

"As soon as I walked across half-court they tried to get the ball out of my hands," he said. "They did a great job on me defending and sending an extra body. It got me better and it's going to get my teammates better."

Last season, Leonard led the Raptors to their first championship, averaging 30.5 points and 9.1 rebounds in 24 postseason games to earn his second Finals MVP award.

"I had a great time there. It's the next chapter now. I can't live in the past," he said. "I'm with a different team and they want to have that same feeling."

The Clippers shot just 37% but dominated the boards 66-38, led by 12 each from Patrick Beverley and JaMychal Green.

Los Angeles' bench outscored Toronto's reserves 56-35, with Montrezl Harrell adding 14 points and 11 rebounds and Green posting 10 points and 12 rebounds.

Leonard's first five points all came on free throws, including two technicals. He missed his first six field-goal attempts and finally scored on a coast-to-coast layup midway through the third quarter to put the Clippers up 62-55.

From there, the Raptors outscored Los Angles 23-11 the rest of the period. Pascal Siakam had seven points and Fred VanVleet added five in the spurt as neither team led by more than two until Matt Thomas' 3-pointer and basket sent the Raptors into the fourth leading 78-73.

"It's just fun, just be able to compete against guys who you were with last year," Leonard said. "It's a little bit more competitive because you do talk to them."

Not much, though.

"Maybe whispered a little bit to him here or there about missing a free throw," Fred VanVleet said, "but it didn't work."

Siakam had 16 points and 10 rebounds, Norman Powell added 15 points and VanVleet had 14 points for the injury-depleted Raptors, who had their three-game winning streak snapped in the second game of a back-to-back after beating the Lakers on Sunday.

"That's a hell of a team to play on a back-to-back short-handed," VanVleet said. "Just kind of ran ourselves into the mud and give those guys credit, they closed it out."

VanVleet was 1 for 7 in the fourth after notching three double-doubles in his previous five games.

Toronto was 4 of 24 from the floor in a fourth-quarter that featured a series of mad dashes and bodies piled in the paint on both ends.

The Raptors tied the game for the last time at 82 on Chris Boucher's 3-pointer. They managed just three field goals the rest of the way.

The Celtics improved to 8-1 thanks to a 116-106 win over the Dallas Mavericks.

Kemba Walker contributed 29 points, while Jaylen Brown had a double-double of 25 points and 11 rebounds.

Luka Doncic was again impressive for Dallas with 34 points, nine assists and six rebounds.

Harden, Westbrook lead Rockets

James Harden had 39 points, nine assists and four rebounds in the Houston Rockets' 122-116 win over the New Orleans Pelicans.

Russell Westbrook also starred, contributing 26 points.

Andrew Wiggins (33 points, six rebounds and five assists) guided the Minnesota Timberwolves past the Detroit Pistons 120-114.

Terrible Tatum

Jayson Tatum has enjoyed a fine season, but he struggled against the Mavericks. The forward went one-of-18 for just five points in nearly 35 minutes.

Parker honoured by Spurs

San Antonio Spurs great Tony Parker's number nine jersey was raised to the rafters at the AT&T Center.

Monday's results
Minnesota Timberwolves 120-114 Detroit Pistons
Boston Celtics 116-106 Dallas Mavericks
Memphis Grizzlies 113-109 San Antonio Spurs
Houston Rockets 122-116 New Orleans Pelicans
Utah Jazz 122-108 Golden State Warriors
Los Angeles Clippers 98-88 Toronto Raptors

Lakers at Suns

The Los Angeles Lakers (7-2) visit the Phoenix Suns (6-3) looking to bounce back from their loss to the Raptors.

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