LOS ANGELES (AP) — On a night when Paul George only played half a game, the Los Angeles Clippers had plenty in reserve.
Bench stars Montrezl Harrell scored 23 points and Lou Williams added 22 in a 126-112 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Thursday night that gave the Clippers consecutive wins for the first time since December 13.
George didn’t return after halftime because of left hamstring tightness. He finished with 12 points.
“Nothing happened. He just felt tightness,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “We just decided not to bring him back.”
Kawhi Leonard scored 18 in three quarters for the Clippers, who had alternated wins and losses for nearly three weeks.
Bruce Brown led nine Pistons in double figures with 15 points. Andre Drummond added 10 points and 12 rebounds. They’ve lost four in a row on the road and eight of nine overall.
Trailing by nine, the Clippers took control in the second quarter. They outscored the Pistons 35-20, including runs of 9-0 and 10-0, to take a 69-63 lead into halftime. George hit back-to-back three-pointers and Leonard followed with another three. Seven different Clippers scored in the spurts.
“Everybody is ready when their name is called,” Harrell said. “We’re not really relying on one or two people. We just carried over our defensive mentality in the game and came out with a big win.”
Once George was sidelined, his teammates stepped up. Landry Shamet hit consecutive three-pointers that extended the lead to 18 points in the third. Maurice Harkless, who started, Williams and Harrell combined to score 13 of the Clippers’ final 15 points and send them into the fourth leading 106-79.
“I enjoyed our third quarter coming out with energy and holding them to 16 points,” Leonard said. “We got out in transition, we ran the floor. We adjusted at halftime and did a good job defensively.”
Detroit scored on consecutive possessions just once in the third.
“I suggested at halftime that maybe we should play a little bit of defence cause we hadn’t,” Rivers said.
Harrell and Williams anchored the second unit in the fourth when the starters rested. The Pistons outscored the Clippers 33-20, but they had too big a deficit to overcome.
“I liked the way we started the game and the way we ended it,” Pistons coach Dwane Casey said. “I liked our intensity and all of our young guys did a great job. If we would have played like that in the third quarter it would have been interesting.”