Leonard and James Harden guided the Los Angeles Clippers to another road victory Sunday over the Miami Heat.
Sunday was a back-to-back win for LA after trailing by more than 10 points in the first quarter, and their sixth comeback win this season after trailing by over 10 points.
Both Miami and the Clippers shot below 45% from the floor. The Clippers made 16 of 39 3-pointers (41%), while Miami made just 8 of 29 (27%).
Turning point: Miami led throughout the whole first quarter and led by as many as 11 points in that period. LA caught its first lead in the second quarter thanks to a Norman Powell 3-pointer with 8:39 left, putting the Clippers up, 28-27. By halftime, the score was tied at 43.
A 6-0 Clippers run put LA up 59-51 in the third. By the end of the quarter, the Clippers’ lead was down to 69-67
After only having four free throw line appearances throughout the first three quarters, LA went 15-18 from the line in the fourth quarter. That plus a 16-4 Clippers run brought the Clippers ahead, 91-78, with 5:20 left. The Clippers held on to grab the win and keep Miami under 100 points.
What it means: Sunday’s win marks the Clippers(33-15) 25th win in 30 games, continuing their hot streak as the NBA’s hottest team with the best record since Dec. 1. They are just 1 game behind the Thunder and Timberwolves, who are tied for first in the Western Conference standings.
LA’s 33-15 start this season is in a four-way tie for their second-best start in franchise history through 48 games. Their best came in the 12-13 season at 34-14.
Hits: James Harden finished Sunday with a double-double, scoring 21 points and a game-high 11 assists. When Harden gets the ball moving, it’s hard for any team to stop LA. The Clippers are 15-2 when Harden has over 10 assists and 16-11 when he has fewer than 10.
Misses: The Heat won the war in the paint as they outscored LA by 20 points, 50-30. That disparity in part was due to Clippers center Ivica Zubac’s slow return. Sunay was Zubac’s first start after nine missed games.
Stat of the game: Leonard collected a game-high 25 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, four assists, two steals and two blocks. He went 8-16 from the field.
Sunday’s win for the Clippers also marked Leonard’s eighth straight games on the road against Miami. The last time he dropped a game against the Heat was more than 10 years ago in 2013.
Up next: LA is back in action as soon as Monday for the second half of a back-to-back at State Farm Arena in Atlanta to face the Hawks. The Clippers will return to Crypto.com Arena for a three-game home stand featuring bouts with the New Orleans Pelicans, Detroit Pistons and Minnesota Timberwolves.