Tagged in: Spurs

Clippers beat Spurs as Leonard scored 38 against former team

Gregg Popovich and Kawhi Leonard traded some laughs and pleasantries after Leonard’s new team, the Los Angeles Clippers, overpowered his former coach and the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday night.

If Leonard has any more nights like that against his former club, the normally irascible Popovich won’t be smiling again.

Leonard scored 38 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in the Clippers’ 103-97 win, which handed the Spurs their first loss. It is Leonard’s first points-rebounds, double-double this season. It is also his first double-double in three meetings versus San Antonio, where he played seven seasons (2011-18) before being traded to Toronto in July of 2018.

The 38 points ties for the fifth-most Leonard has scored in a regular-season game in his eight-year career. He took a career high 32 shots.

”It was something I look forward to,” Leonard said about facing the Spurs. ”Just to be able to play against a great coach and my old teammates is always fun.” Leonard is 2-1 versus his former team. While his departure from San Antonio wasn’t amicable, Leonard said his relationship with Popovich is good, for the most part.

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Popovich didn’t have much to say about Leonard postgame other than: ”I thought he was great.” When someone tried to get Popovich to expound, he replied: ”Doc’s coaching him, I’m not. I just said he had a great game, there’s nothing else to say.”

Another thing going well is Leonard’s start with the Clippers, the team he signed with as a free agent during the offseason.

He has scored 30 or more in three of his first five games and is the first Clipper since Blake Griffin in 2015 to have at least 38 points and 12 rebounds in a game.

”Tonight was a great night for him to do his thing. We just followed his lead,” Clippers guard Lou Williams said. Leonard – who sat out Wednesday’s game at Utah due to load management – took control of the game in the second half, when he had 25 points on 10 of 16 shooting from the field, including a pair of 3-pointers.

Los Angeles went on a 9-1 run to take a 64-55 lead with 6:55 remaining in the third quarter. Leonard scored five of his 10 third-quarter points during the rally, including a dunk after a steal of DeMar DeRozan at midcourt.

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