Kawhi Leonard returned to the lineup Saturday and finished with a team-high 28 points, and Paul George added 24 points, nine rebounds and nine assists as the host Los Angeles Clippers defeated the Eastern Conference-leading Philadelphia 76ers 122-112 on Saturday.
Leonard, who missed a game with a foot injury, also had four rebounds and four assists, and Terance Mann scored a season-high 23 points off the bench as the Clippers won their fifth straight game and seventh in their last nine.
Tobias Harris led the 76ers with 29 points on 13 of 19 shooting, and added seven rebounds and six assists. Danny Green hit five 3-pointers and finished with 17 points, followed by Shake Milton with 16. Ben Simmons chipped in with 15 points and seven rebounds for Philadelphia, which saw its four-game winning streak broken.
The Clippers dominated inside, played sticky defense and pushed the pace offensively. L.A. held a 12-0 advantage in fast-break points and a 54-40 edge in paint points.
Sixers coach Doc Rivers faced the Clippers for the first time since his departure last season. Rivers led them to six playoff appearances and finished with a franchise-record 356 wins over his seven seasons.
The Sixers played without MVP candidate Joel Embiid, who has missed nine of the last 10 games and hasn’t played since March 12 due to a left ankle sprain. The Sixers are 7-3 without Embiid in that span.
Making matters worse for the Sixers, backup center Dwight Howard was ejected for a second game in a row with 10:35 left in the fourth quarter. About two minutes later, Simmons fouled out.
Philadelphia jumped out to a 10-point lead about midway through the first quarter, but Leonard and Mann helped the Clippers reel in Philadelphia in the second quarter, and L.A. led by five points at the half.
The Clippers led by as many as 19 points with 8:10 left in the game and won going away.
“I think it was just being aggressive early,” Mann said about his team’s win. “Guys got downhill and set the tempo right from the jump. That’s what we’ve been doing the past five games, and we’re just going to continue to play our basketball.”
Marcus Morris Sr. also returned to the starting lineup and scored 13 points. Ivica Zubac added 11 rebounds, matching Howard for game-high honors.
The Clippers remained without point guard Patrick Beverley (knee) and gig man Serge Ibaka (back), and newly acquired Rajon Rondo was in the building but did not play.
–Field Level Media