Lou Williams scored 21 points, Kawhi Leonard just missed a triple-double in his first game against his former team and the Los Angeles Clippers beat the defending NBA champion Toronto Raptors 98-88 on Monday night.
Leonard finished with 12 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists to go with nine turnovers. Last season, he led the Raptors to their first championship, averaging 30.5 points and 9.1 rebounds in 24 post-season games to earn his second Finals MVP honour.
Pascal Siakam had 16 points and 10 rebounds, Norman Powell added 15 points and Fred VanVleet had 14 points for the injury-depleted Raptors, who had their three-game winning streak snapped in the second game of a back-to-back.
The Clippers shot just 37 per cent but dominated the boards, 66-38, led by 12 each from Patrick Beverley and JaMychal Green.
Leonard faced plenty of double coverage throughout the game.
His first five points all came on free throws, including two technicals. Leonard missed his first six field goal attempts and finally scored on a coast-to-coast layup midway through the third quarter to put the Clippers up 62-55.
From there, the Raptors outscored Los Angles 23-11 the rest of the period. Siakam scored seven points and VanVleet added five in the spurt as neither team led by more than two until Matt Thomas’ 3-pointer and basket sent the Raptors into the fourth leading 78-73.
The fourth was a series of mad dashes and bodies piled in the paint on both ends.
The Raptors tied the game for the last time at 82-all on Chris Boucher’s 3-pointer. They managed just three field goals the rest of the way.
Raptors: Starting forward OG Anunoby got poked in the right eye by Leonard scrambling for a rebound two minutes into the game and didn’t return. … Toronto was without G Kyle Lowry (broken left thumb) and F/C Serge Ibaka (right ankle sprain), who both got hurt Friday at New Orleans. Lowry will be re-evaluated in two weeks, while Ibaka is out indefinitely.
Clippers: Starting G Landry Shamet went down near the baseline late in the third and had to be helped off the court. … Los Angeles improved to 6-1 at home.
Paul George had his No. 24 jersey retired at Fresno State, where Clippers owner Steve Ballmer and some of his current teammates surprised him.
George was honoured at halftime of Sunday’s 77-74 victory over Winthrop in front of 8,529 fans. He and former Bulldogs coach Jerry Tarkanian are the only basketball jerseys to be retired by the school, where George played from 2008-10 before leaving early for the NBA draft.
“We walked in and he was shocked to see us,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “A really cool thing. It was great for Paul.”
Beverley, Shamet, Jerome Robinson and Ivica Zubac were aboard the short flight arranged by Ballmer.
“My plane was broke,” joked Rivers.
Raptors: Visit the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday in the fourth of five road games, tying their longest trip of the season.
Clippers: At the Houston Rockets on Wednesday to start a quick two-game trip that ends in New Orleans.