San Antonio, TX (SportsNetwork.com) – Kawhi Leonard added to his growing
collection of hardware on Thursday when he was named the NBA’s Defensive
Player of the Year.
He put his complete game on display in Friday’s Game 3.
Leonard scored a career-high 32 points in less than 29 minutes and anchored an
incredible defensive effort to guide the San Antonio Spurs to a 100-73 win
over the Los Angeles Clippers.
Leonard showcased his two-way dominance from the opening tip. He finished 13-
of-18 shooting with three steals and two blocks, playing less than two minutes
in the fourth quarter with the game well in hand.
“He puts the effort in, he puts the work in,” said Tim Duncan. “I think he
came out here tonight to say he’s more than just a defender.”
Boris Diaw chipped in 15 points and six rebounds off the bench to make up for
the relative lack of production from Duncan, who scored 28 points to carry the
Spurs to their overtime win in Game 2. The two-time MVP was quiet in this one,
netting just four points on 2-of-6 shooting.
The Spurs will look to take a commanding 3-1 series lead in Sunday’s Game 4,
but head coach Gregg Popovich wants his team to stay grounded.
“They couldn’t throw it in the ocean tonight, and we were hotter than heck.
But it doesn’t mean anything.”
The Clippers won Game 1 in convincing fashion and lost a heartbreaker in Game
2, but they looked overmatched in their first game in San Antonio. Blake
Griffin was the lone bright spot with 14 points, 10 rebounds and five assists.
Chris Paul was limited to seven points and committed six turnovers, but
perhaps the bigger issue for LA was the lack of production from its reserves.
Jamal Crawford’s 1-for-11 highlighted an abysmal night for the Clippers
reserves, who contributed just 30 points on 41 shots.
Leonard scored twice during San Antonio’s 9-2 start. He added a pair of 3-
pointers during a 10-2 run later in the first quarter that extended the lead
Leonard finished the first half with 16 points, none bigger than his one-
handed alley-oop on a feed from Danny Green. That flush highlighted a 9-0 run,
which Leonard capped with his coast-to-coast layup.
The Spurs led 46-38 at halftime and looked to put the game away early in the
third. Leonard took it upon himself to make sure that was the case.
“Kawhi jumped on us,” said Clippers coach Doc Rivers. “I thought he, at the
start of the third quarter, changed the game.”
Leonard scored 11 on 5-of-5 shooting in less than five minutes out of the
break. His triple at 7:23 capped a 13-5 push that made it 59-43.
Patty Mills and Green hit consecutive 3s during an 8-0 flurry early in the
fourth that put the game out of reach. Leonard put an exclamation mark on the
blowout with a three-point play at 7:39 of the fourth that made it a 30-point
He checked out less than a minute later to a roaring ovation from his home
“We just got our butt kicked. They played tremendous basketball and we
didn’t,” Rivers said. “We’ll look at the film and see if we can fix it.”
The Spurs have won 10 straight at home … Duncan will celebrate his 39th
birthday on Saturday … Green scored 11 points … The Spurs scored 25
points off 14 LA turnovers … The Clippers, who shot 34.1 percent as a
team, finished with a playoff franchise low in points and field goal
percentage … Both teams scored 40 points in the paint.