Before returning for the Clippers’ game against the Hornets in Charlotte on Monday night, Kawhi Leonard missed the previous six Los Angeles games with a right ankle injury. While he was on the sidelines, he clearly didn’t lose his grip when it came to clutch punches.
With the Clippers trailing 117–115 with only 45 seconds left on the clock at Charlotte, Leonard hit two straight baskets to lift Los Angeles to a 119–117 win. The first basket hit the attacking glass after he was able to drive a loose ball into Paul George’s paint after a miss from Marcus Morris. This bucket evened the score at 117 a piece.
Then, when the clock was up and the count was still running, the ball was back in Leonard’s hands. This time, he calmly lowered the jumper onto Jalen McDaniels’ outstretched arms. The shot sealed a deal for the Clippers, who snapped a two-game losing streak with a win.
Leonard finished the game with 16 points, six rebounds and two assists in 28 minutes of play. He was joined by five more Clippers players in double figures, including Paul George with 19 points and seven assists. However, Leonard’s tenacity proved to be the history of the game, and you can see both of his late buckets below:
Leonard started the season relatively slowly, mainly due to injuries. He dealt with lingering pain in his surgically repaired right knee, then faded into the background with an ankle problem. At the same time, it was hard to get a real sense of the Clippers as their top player spends so much time off the field. We know they’ll need Leonard to be healthy and productive if they’re going to hit their ceiling as a team, so hopefully he can stay on the court as the season goes on.