By Chad Waters
Kawhi Leonard and the Los Angeles Clippers once again outmatched the Oklahoma City Thunder at Staples Center. The Clippers (13-4) recorded a 108-100 victory on Sunday afternoon after beating the Thunder (6-9) by 14 points two days prior. Leonard led the Clippers with 34 points to give Los Angeles its seventh-straight victory, which ties them for the NBA’s best record with the Los Angeles Lakers. The Thunder has lost three in a row and five of their last six games.
The first quarters were nearly identical in the back-to-back matchups between these teams. The Clippers led 36-18 after the first quarter on Friday and led 36-19 after the opening quarter on Sunday. The Thunder missed all of their 3-point attempts in the first quarter, shooting 0-of-12 from 3-point range on Friday and 0-of-9 on Sunday. But unlike Friday night, the Thunder sparked a comeback after the Clippers’ big-opening lead to make it a game.
George Hill knocked down three straight 3-pointers for the Thunder after they trailed by 17 points in the fourth quarter. After a turnover, Luguentz Dort fed Shai Gilgeous-Alexander for a dunk that capped an 11-0 run for the Thunder and cut their deficit to 102-96. However, Leonard sealed the Clippers’ win with a driving dunk in the final minute, forcing the Thunder to foul in the closing seconds.
SGA led the Thunder with 23 points, seven assists, and six rebounds against his former team after dropping 30 points against the Clippers on Friday night. Hill scored a season-high 22 points on 9-of-12 shooting. Isaiah Roby, who started his fifth-straight game at center in place of Al Horford, scored 10 points on 5-of-10 shooting with 10 rebounds for the first double-double of his young career.
For the first time all season, Dort failed to make at least one 3-pointer, missing all six attempts on Sunday afternoon. He leads the team with 34 made threes and is still shooting over 40 percent on the season.
Leonard had his way with the Thunder from every spot on the floor in both matchups. Leonard added nine rebounds and eight assists alongside his season-high 34 points after scoring 31 points against the Thunder on Friday night. Paul George, who sat out the final five minutes due to hamstring tightness, finished with 11 points on 4-of-13 shooting after scoring 29 points against the Thunder on Friday night.
Although it wasn’t George who hurt his former team this time, another pair of ex-Thunder players finished with a couple of strong outings on Sunday against OKC. Serge Ibaka and Reggie Jackson finished as the team’s leading scorers behind Leonard. Jackson was called on to start the second half when point guard Patrick Beverley (right knee) was ruled out. After not playing on Friday night, Jackson scored 14 points in the second half on Sunday, with 10 of those points coming in the third quarter as Jackson made four of his five attempts in the quarter. Ibaka followed his 17-point and 11-rebound game on Friday with 17 points and six rebounds on Sunday. The Clippers center shot an impressive 7-of-8 in each game.
Next up, the Thunder face the Portland Trailblazers (8-6) on Monday night for their fourth-straight road game. Oklahoma City ends its road trip against the Phoenix Suns (8-7) on Wednesday before heading back home to face the Brooklyn Nets (10-8) on Friday.