Kawhi Leonard, Clip­pers rally to beat Lak­ers 111-106

The Saline Courier - - SPORTS - By Dan Greenspan

LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Clip­pers were re­silient and dom­i­nant in the sec­ond half to put away the Los Angeles Lak­ers, us­ing the NBA’S mar­quee Christ­mas game to show why the city and the Western Con­fer­ence might be­long to them this sea­son.

Kawhi Leonard scored 11 of his 35 points in the fourth quar­ter and had 12 re­bounds and five as­sists to help the Clip­pers beat Lak­ers 111-106 on Wed­nes­day night.

The Clip­pers trailed by 12 points at half­time, by 15 in the third quar­ter, and by seven in the fourth quar­ter with 6:39 re­main­ing, but they ral­lied to im­prove to 2-0 against the Lak­ers this sea­son.

“And we didn’t flinch,” Clip­pers coach Doc Rivers said. “Like, we just kind of hung in there. Al­most felt like we were bid­ing our time and just try­ing to make a run. That’s some­thing you have to have when things aren’t go­ing great for you. You just got to hang in there, and I thought we did that tonight.”

Leonard set a fran­chise record for points on Christ­mas, and he be­came the 10th player in NBA his­tory with at least 35 points, 10 re­bounds and five as­sists on Dec. 25.

Mon­trezl Har­rell had 18 points off the bench, and

Paul Ge­orge added 17, and the Clip­pers are 15-2 at Sta­ples Cen­ter.

“We have so many in­ter­chang­ing parts,” Clip­pers guard Lou Wil­liams said. “We have guys that’s go­ing to have big nights. I think I had five or six points tonight, and that’s just how this team is built. It’s go­ing to be dif­fer­ent guys ev­ery night.”

Kyle Kuzma led Los Angeles with 25 points.

Lebron James had 23 points, 10 as­sists and nine re­bounds, and An­thony Davis had 24 points. The Lak­ers have lost four straight games.

Wil­liams made two free throws — af­ter a ques­tion­able foul call against Davis for tap­ping the swing­man af­ter his tran­si­tion layup rimmed out — to give the Clip­pers a 105-103 lead with 3:29 to go.

Leonard, who had a 3 to cap a 7-0 run and tie it at 101 with 5:14 re­main­ing, then made four late free throws.

“They wanted it more,” Davis said. “We had a lot of mis­takes down at the end of the game, men­tal mis­takes at both ends of the floor. We fouled a lot in the fourth quar­ter, put them to the line. … We gave that one away.”

Los Angeles had a chance to tie in the fi­nal sec­onds, but video re­view showed James touched the ball last af­ter Pa­trick Bev­erly knocked it away as James went up for a 3. Ge­orge hit two free throws for the fi­nal mar­gin.

“That wasn’t the game right there,” James said. “I mean, it’s a big play and you want to try to get it right, but it wasn’t where the game was lost.”

TIP-INS

Clip­pers: Wil­liams had six points and seven re­bounds. ... The Clip­pers had a 50-42 edge in re­bounds.

Lak­ers: Kuzma had 15 points in the first quar­ter, mak­ing 5 of 7 shots, in­clud­ing 3 of 4 3s. … The Lak­ers bench outscored the Clip­pers’ re­serves 49-36. … James played in 14th Christ­mas Day game, sec­ond in NBA his­tory to Kobe Bryant at 16.

BIG RE­SPONSE

Af­ter al­low­ing a 14-2 run over the fi­nal 2:52 of the sec­ond quar­ter, the Clip­pers re­grouped with nine dif­fer­ent play­ers scor­ing to tie it up at 86-all go­ing into the fourth quar­ter. De­fen­sively, they held the Lak­ers to 9 of 23 shoot­ing in the third, in­clud­ing 1 of 10 from 3.

“We’ve done worse,” Wil­liams said of the strug­gles clos­ing out the first half. “We’ve dropped 15-point leads in three straight games be­fore this, so I think that’s just grow­ing pains.”

SANTA’S LAP

There was plenty of star power sit­ting court­side for the highly-an­tic­i­pated game, in­clud­ing Red Hot Chili Pep­pers bassist Flea and R&B star The Weeknd. But Kevin Hart found him­self closer to the ac­tion than ex­pected when Davis missed a fall­away shot at the end of the first half and ended up on top of the co­me­dian. James ran over from the bench and did the same, much to the amuse­ment of Hart’s kids.

UP NEXT

Clip­pers: Host Utah on Satur­day night.

Lak­ers: At Port­land on Satur­day night.

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