Kawhi Leonard takes over in fourth as Clippers stun Nets

January 22, 2024 12:00 pm

[Source: Reuters]

Kawhi Leonard hit the go-ahead jumper with 2:50 remaining in the fourth quarter and scored 14 of his 21 points in a game-ending 22-0 run for the Los Angeles Clippers, who stormed back for a 125-114 win over the visiting Brooklyn Nets on Sunday.

The Clippers gave up the game’s first 16 points, trailed by 18 three times late in the third and faced a 15-point deficit entering the fourth. Then they outscored the Nets 41-15 in the final 12 minutes by making 12 of 16 shots, sinking 12 free throws and outrebounding the Nets 14-2.

The Nets held a 114-103 on a basket by Mikal Bridges with 5:33 remaining but following a timeout, the Clippers began their run. Paul George launched it with a 3-pointer and the Clippers took their first lead when Leonard’s 9-foot fadeaway made it 115-114 with 2:50 left.

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After making two free throws, Leonard hit a 3-pointer with 64 seconds left and another triple with 29.9 seconds to go to clinch the Clippers’ 24th win in its past 31 games.

Leonard shot 6-of-15 overall on a day when the Clippers struggled to find their rhythm until the fourth. James Harden led the Clippers with eight of his 24 points in the fourth and also handed out 10 assists.

Russell Westbrook kept Los Angeles afloat until the fourth by adding 23 points, nine rebounds and six assists. Terrance Mann added 13 and George contributed 12 as the Clippers shot 50.6 percent.

Bridges scored 20 of his 26 points in the first half for the Nets. Cam Thomas added 20 while Spencer Dinwiddie and Nic Claxton contributed 16 apiece, but the Nets missed their final eight shots and lost for the 10th time in 12 games.

Bridges sank three 3-pointers as part of the 16-point opening run while the Clippers missed their first seven shots. Los Angeles scored 10 straight points and ripped off an 18-2 run to tie the game at 18 before the Nets held a 27-24 lead after the opening quarter.

After taking a pair of 16-point leads, the Nets held a 61-49 lead by halftime when Bridges turned Harden’s missed 3-pointer into an uncontested dunk with 1.2 seconds left. Los Angeles trailed 80-71 on Westbrook’s layup with 4:35 remaining but the Nets took three 18-point leads and maintained a 99-84 advantage into the fourth.