After trading leads for the first three quarters of the game, the Los Angeles Clippers buckled down in the fourth quarter to defeat the defending champion Toronto Raptors 98-88 Monday night in Kawhi Leonard’s first matchup with his former team.
The Clippers held the Raptors to just 10 fourth-quarter points, outscoring them by 15 to seal the deal.
Before the game began, all the talk was about the reunion. Clippers head coach Doc Rivers spoke on the subject, saying Leonard “has a different bond” with the Toronto squad.
It wasn’t Leonard, however, who accounted for most of Los Angeles’ scoring Monday. Instead, it was 33-year-old Lou Williams who led the way with 24 points, four rebounds and four assists. Leonard came one assist away from having a triple-double with 12 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists on the night.
Remarkably, it was his third game with nine or more assists in eight appearances as a Clipper, and Leonard only had one nine-assist game in his prior eight NBA seasons, as pointed out by The Ringer’s Dan Devine.
Leonard, however, had a whopping nine of the Clippers’ 18 turnovers.
L.A. also lost guard Landry Shamet to an injury sustained while defending his college teammate Fred VanVleet. Shamet was helped off the court and will undergo an MRI to check on his sprained ankle, Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes reported.
After the win, Leonard admitted that the reunion was an emotional one for him (though it’s Kawhi we’re talking about here, so it was hard to tell).
Pascal Siakam led the Raptors with 16 points, 10 rebounds and six assists, while Norman Powell and Fred VanVleet combined for 29 points. In all, Toronto shot 40% (34-85) from the field, and Los Angeles 37% (34-92).
The game was the Raptor’s second of a back-to-back; they’re 10-4 in those games dating back through last season, according to the broadcast. Both teams are now 7-3 on the year and return to action Wednesday.