Kawhi Leonard is serious. The Los Angeles Clippers star exploded past defenders for a monstrous dunk in Wednesday’s win over the Boston Celtics. The vicious slam came late in the fourth quarter with the Clippers down by six. Kawhi drove down the lane and rose up over Daniel Theis before throwing it down hard with the right hand.
The dunk was just the start of what was a wild finish at Staples Center between two of the best teams in the NBA. In the final minute with the Celtics trailing 97-94, Jayson Tatum drilled a game-tying triple on a controversial play that could have been called for an offensive foul. Upon further review, it appeared Tatum’s legs got tangled with the defender who fell down, allowing Tatum to drill the wide-open shot. The game then went to overtime after Leonard missed a potential game-winning three-pointer at the buzzer.
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Exciting Finish in Overtime
There were also several jaw-dropping plays in overtime including a defensive gem by Marcus Smart in the final minute of overtime which gave the Celtics one last chance to tie the game at the buzzer.
The Clippers won the game 107-104 and improve to 9-1 at home this season. It was one of the most entertaining games of the young season as the two title hopefuls put on a show perhaps even gave us a preview of the NBA Finals. The Celtics led by 10 midway through the fourth quarter but could not hold the lead. Tatum led all scorers with 30 points and went 5-for-10 from three-point range. Boston wraps up a five-game road trip on Friday against the Denver Nuggets. The Clippers are also in action on Friday and will try to stay hot at Staples Center when they host the Houston Rockets.
Together At Last
Wednesday’s win was a memorable debut for the new dynamic duo of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George who were playing in their first game together as teammates. George led the way with 25 points, eight assists, and five rebounds. Leonard added 17 points and six boards plus made a huge block in the final seconds of overtime, preserving the win for Los Angeles. Neither player spent much time together on the floor as head coach Doc Rivers staggered their minutes.
“It’s still tough,” Leonard said after the game. “We’re both on kind of minute restrictions so it’s hard to get a flow.”
Leonard and George both signed max free-agent deals with the Clippers this offseason in a move that shook up the landscape of the Western Conference. George made his season debut on November 14 after missing the first month with an injury. Leonard made his return from injury in Wednesday’s win over the Celtics as fans got their first look at the combo playing together.
“We’re going to have growing pains,” George said. “The great thing about myself and Kawhi is it doesn’t matter, we’re going to play basketball. Try to make the right plays and play off each other and just keep the game flowing. I thought in that aspect we were good.”
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