Leonard shines in debut as Clippers beat Lakers in season opener
Los Angeles (AFP) –
Kawhi Leonard made his Los Angeles debut a successful one on Tuesday as his Clippers upstaged LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers 112-102 to get their 2019-20 campaign off to a winning start.
Leonard wasted no time roaring back into action, leading the way in the season-opener with his new team after powering the Toronto Raptors to their first NBA title last season.
"It was great. A lot of emotions, game one," said Leonard, who grew up in Riverside, 50 miles east of Los Angeles.
"I am just happy we came out and got a victory. We had great practices and had some carry over from that tonight."
The Clippers attacked the rim, forced easy turnovers, used a stingy defence to keep James and his new sidekick Anthony Davis in check.
Leonard also had six rebounds and five assists, reserve guard Lou Williams finished with 21 points and power forward Montrezl Harrell tallied 17 points and seven rebounds.
James shot seven-of-19 for 18 points and Davis shot eight-of-21 for 25 points for the Lakers who are hoping their offseason changes will boost the team's fortunes after they finished a disappointing 37-45 and failed to qualify for the postseason for the sixth season in a row.
The two Los Angeles teams made some of the most signficant changes but the Clippers appeared to have added more value.
Every one of their bench players reached double figures on Tuesday as they outscored the Laker reserves 60-19.
Thanks to the addition of Leonard from Toronto and Paul George from Oklahoma City, the Clippers are one of the early front runners to contend for a title.
© 2019 AFP