After sitting out in Wednesday night’s game against the Utah Jazz for load management, Kawhi Leonard came back stronger than ever in Friday night’s game. The superstar small forward racked up 38 points in last night’s game against his former coach, Gregg Popovich, Spurs.
The Klaw came out to play on Halloween night and led the Clippers in delivering the Spurs, their first L of the season, 97-103. Kawhi had 38 points, 12 rebounds and 4 steals.
Leonard played with the San Antonio Spurs under Gregg Popovich, but left the team on bad terms. Kawhi suffered a quad injury which hindered his ability to play in his last season’s with the team. This caused some tension between Leonard and The Spurs. Robert Dennis, Leonard’s uncle, spoke with Yahoo Sports about the issue.
“I think it just became a lack of trust. They didn’t believe Kawhi couldn’t play and that caused a lack of trust in us and then us not believing in them. Any time a player says he’s not capable of playing, you should believe him,” Robertson told Yahoo Sports.
According to Yahoo Sports, due to the rift between Leonard and the team, Leonard wanted out. He was traded to the Toronto Raptors and took the team to the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history.
Though Leonard might have put a little more effort into last night’s game, in spite of his former coach, the 6’7″ small forward said the two have mended their relationship.
Popovich, also had encouraging words for the player. In an interview before the game posted on ClutchPoints, Popovich spoke about Leonard and his development.
“Kawhi’s pretty steady,” Popovich said. “He’s not a big talker. He doesn’t try to find the limelight or anything like that. He’s just a good guy who wanted to be good. In putting the time in, there wasn’t one moment where you’d say, ‘Wow!’ When he first came in, you saw his work ethic and you look at his physical skills that he has. His length, his hands, his size, his strength.”
After such an incredible performance, Lou Williams, shooting guard for the LA Clippers, said in an interview, “tonight he [Leonard] showed his genius.”
According to ESPN, this was Leonard’s “first points-rebounds, double-double this season.”
After the big win, Popovich wasn’t very generous in his exchange of words regarding his former player. According to ESPN, after saying in an interview that Kawhi “was great,” he didn’t wish to elaborate. After being asked about Kawhi again, Popovich replied: “Doc’s coaching him, I’m not. I just said he had a great game, there’s nothing else to say.”
The LA Clippers were 42.9% from the field, while the Spurs were 45% from the field. At an attempt to stop the Clippers, the Spurs resulted to fouling and ended the game with 28 fouls, according to ESPN’s game stats.
According to ESPN, after this win the Clippers are now 3-0 at home for the first time in four years. The Clippers face the Jazz at home tomorrow, November 3, at 6 p.m.