LOS ANGELES (AP) — Adept at operating at whatever gear his team needs, Kawhi Leonard has been in selfish mode of late, and the Los Angeles Clippers are better for it.
Leonard scored 32 points, Montrezl Harrell had 21 and the Clippers beat the Orlando Magic 122-95 yesterday.
Leonard also had five rebounds and five assists in his fourth consecutive game with at least 30 points. He was 12 for 20 from the field.
Leonard’s adaptive nature is why the Clippers were willing to throw more than USD100 million his way for the next three seasons. Finding a player that has the ability to be the best in the league at whatever mode he chooses does not come cheap.
“It’s not hard for him; it would be hard for me and most other players,” Clippers head coach Doc Rivers said. “For him, he’s so under control that nothing’s going to speed him up. He can go fast when he wants to. We have figured out how to take advantage of that better and it’s been great for us.”
Leonard’s four consecutive offensive-minded games have coincided with Paul George’s absence because of a strained left hamstring. The Clippers not only improved to 11-1 when Leonard scores 30 or more points, he is the first Clippers player with four consecutive games of at least 30 since Elton Brand in 2006.
“I’m just making shots, my teammates are being aggressive and they are getting me open shots as well,” Leonard said. “It’s just creating a chain reaction and we’re all playing hard on defence. We’re able to get out in transition.”
The Clippers placed seven players in double figures and led by many as 23 in their fourth win in five games. Landry Shamet scored 13 points, and JaMychal Green finished with 11 points and 13 rebounds.
Nikola Vucevic had 22 points and nine rebounds and Aaron Gordon scored 20 points, but the Magic were unable to keep up with the Clippers while playing in Los Angeles for the second time in two nights. Orlando ended the Lakers’ nine-game winning streak with a victory Wednesday.