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113-93: Clippers topple Celtics with best Kawhi Leonard

David Villafranca

Los Angeles (USA), 13 Dec. The Celtics are choking on California. After losing on Saturday to the Golden State Warriors in the reissue of the Finals, Boston fell unappealable on Monday to the Los Angeles Clippers in Kawhi Leonard’s best game this season (113-93).

With 25 points (thanks to a superb 10 of 12 shooting), 9 rebounds and 6 assists, Leonard gave hope to those who trust that he can recover his best version after missing the entire previous season due to a serious knee injury.

The other figure of the Angelenos, Paul George (26 points and 6 rebounds), also performed at a good level.

But in general, he highlighted the strength, firmness in defense and collective contribution of the Clippers block (16-13) in a very convincing victory against the team with the best balance in the NBA.

“It’s been a team effort from everyone,” Leonard said on the track.

For their part, the Celtics (21-7), the best offense in the entire NBA, signed their worst score of the course and fell below 100 points for the first time.

It was not an easy night for his referents.

Jayson Tatum finished with 20 points (7 of 20 shooting) and 11 rebounds while Jaylen Brown had 21 points (1 of 6 on 3-pointers).

Despite so many fans in green at Clippers Stadium that it looked like a Boston home game, the Celtics crashed an abysmal 9-of-39 3-pointer (23.1%).

Still without the injured Al Horford, the Celtics still have one more stop in California on their tour of the West, nothing less than an exciting duel on Tuesday against their eternal rivals: Los Angeles Lakers.

SOLID CLIPPERS

The Clippers were not at all afraid of these imposing Celtics.

In a very solid start, with good circulation, grit in defense and impudence in attack, the Angelenos reached a remarkable +12 in the first quarter (28-16 with 1.51 left to play).

However, in those last two minutes of the period Malcolm Brogdon signed 7 points and Tatum scored a basket at the buzzer to certify a 1-9 run that left the score at a manageable margin (29-25).

Brown’s third foul with just four minutes left in the second quarter upset Joe Mazzulla’s usual rotation.

The game then entered a phase of broken rhythm, with mistakes on both sides and with too many revisions and stoppages by referees that were highly disputed throughout the night.

That’s where the Clippers got oil, who closed the first part with a 56-47 leaning on George (13 points), Marcus Morris (11) and Leonard (10).

With Boston far from its best level, the Clippers had an ideal opportunity to break the game and they applied it at the restart.

Leonard and George sharpened their aim from the perimeter, the Los Angeles defense reaffirmed its intensity and the Clippers shaped a +16 that set off alarm bells for the Celtics (66-50 with 9.26 left).

Tatum tried everything (9 points in this quarter), but Leonard recalled touches of that unstoppable player before his injury and added 10 points without fail in this period, shining especially in the middle distance.

Thick and with their crosshairs wide on 3-pointers, the Celtics couldn’t find a way to slow down the Clippers with valuable contributions from John Wall and Luke Kennard.

With the game uphill at the beginning of the last 12 minutes (88-72), Boston clung to a Grant Williams with a lot of power and conviction to look for the rival basket.

However, Leonard’s 3-pointer from the corner pushed the lead above 20 points for the first time and the Celtics, with Tatum and Brown showing signs of significant frustration, weren’t long in throwing in the towel. EFE

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