Clippers beat Jazz as Kawhi Leonard scores season-high 41

Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard (2) shoots over Utah Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson (00), during the second half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Dec. 8, 2023, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Egan)

Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard (2) shoots over Utah Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson (00), during the second half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Dec. 8, 2023, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Egan)

SALT LAKE CITY— Kawhi Leonard scored a season-high 41 points and the Los Angeles Clippers beat Utah 117-103 on Friday night to snap an 11-game road losing streak against the Jazz in the NBA.

Leonard made a season-high 14 field goals in 23 attempts, was 6 of 8 from 3-point range and made all seven of his free throws. He also had five rebounds and five assists.

“I thought he had a good rhythm and his teammates kept looking for him and kept going through him,” Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said. “He was able to produce.”

Paul George added 20 points, and Ivica Zubac had 18 points and 12 rebounds. James Harden had 12 points on 2-of-8 shooting.

Los Angeles made 15 3-pointers and shot 44% from 3-point range.

John Collins led Utah with 19 points and 13 rebounds. Talen Horton-Tucker added 16 points and five assists, Keyonte George chipped in 15 points and Walker Kessler had 12 rebounds in his return to the starting lineup.

“I think the team tonight played pretty hard,” Jazz coach Will Hardy said. “On the offensive side of the ball we tried to play together, we tried to execute, and ultimately struggled to make shots. It put us behind the curve.”

The Jazz never led after the first quarter after struggling with inconsistency on offense.

“A lot of shots weren’t falling,” Collins said. “We felt like we generated a lot of good, open shots and a lot of those weren’t falling either.”

The Jazz trailed by double digits for a large chunk of the second half before scoring on seven straight possessions to spark a rally early in the fourth quarter. Collins led the charge with three baskets, including back-to-back dunks. Utah cut it to 99-93 on Sexton’s jumper with 6:56 left, capping an 18-7 run.

That’s as close as the Jazz got. Leonard made back-to-back baskets and assisted on another to fuel a 12-0 run that gave the Clippers a 111-93 lead with 4:48 remaining.

“We got stops and we made shots,” Leonard said. “Our defense kept us going. We had a steady group and a good mindset to keep moving.”

Leonard put the Clippers in a good spot with a hot start that foreshadowed his dominance over four quarters. He made his first five shots from the field, scoring 14 points, to put Los Angeles up 24-13. Buoyed by Leonard’s offensive efficiency, Los Angeles knocked down 62% of its first quarter field goal attempts.

“Our last two games we had been fighting from behind in those first quarters,” Leonard said. “You got to jump on teams early in their home building and (the Jazz) play very well at home. That was able to get us a little breathing room throughout the whole game.”



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UP NEXT FOR CLIPPERS, JAZZ

Clippers: Host Portland on Monday night.

Jazz: At Oklahoma City on Monday night.

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