LOS ANGELES (AP) – Kawhi Leonard scored 19 points, Paul George had a triple-double and the Los Angeles Clippers rallied to beat the undermanned Minnesota Timberwolves 99-88 yesterday for their third straight victory.
George had 17 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists for his first triple-double since joining the Clippers before the 2019 season.
“I don’t know how he did that,” Leonard said. “I was like, ‘Who were you passing the ball to?’”
Luke Kennard added season highs of 16 points and four three-pointers as six Clippers scored in double figures.
“We finally started making shots and played defence,” Leonard said. “We kept going from there.”
Coming off a 20-point victory over the NBA-leading Boston Celtics on Monday, the Clippers started out cold. They missed 13 of their first 15 shots and it wasn’t until the third that they shot over 30 per cent from the floor.
Anthony Edwards led Minnesota with 19 points while in foul trouble. Rudy Gobert had 11 points and 13 rebounds.
“We couldn’t make a bucket basically,” Wolves coach Chris Finch said. “Things dried up for us a little bit in the fourth.”
The teams were tied twice early in the fourth, the last time at 71 on Kyle Anderson’s basket.
From there, the Clippers outscored the Wolves 25-9 before both teams brought in their benches for the final two minutes.
Los Angeles ran off eight straight points and Kennard hit two three-pointers while Nicolas Batum had another.
George scored four in a row, pushing the Clippers’ lead to 91-78. He had a pair of free throws and Batum stole the ball and fed George for a layup.
“Just took what the defence game him, didn’t force it,” Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said about George. “We’ve been talking about playing the right way, the simple way and he did it.”
Down five at halftime, the Clippers started Batum in the second half for Ivica Zubac, who left with left knee discomfort. Batum hit a three-pointer and another basket for five quick points. He added another three-pointer that pushed the Clippers’ lead to 61-55.
“I needed a good scoring game at home finally because I’ve been pretty bad,” Batum said.
Minnesota took a 65-64 lead on Edwards’ basket before Kennard’s three-pointer put the Clippers back in front by two going into the fourth.
The Timberwolves have been without Karl-Anthony Towns (right calf strain) the last couple weeks, and D’Angelo Russell (left knee contusion) is day-to-day.