Kawhi Leonard ends Clippers drought in Utah against Jazz

Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports
Los Angeles snapped an 11-game road skid against the Jazz.

Kawhi Leonard posted a season-high 41 points to contribute to the Clippers 117-103 win over the Jazz at the Delta Center. 

For Los Angeles, Friday’s win is the team’s first regular season win in Utah since Feb. 13, 201. For Leonard, it’s his first win in Utah since Nov. 4, 2016. And for Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue, it marks his first regular season win in Utah after being 0-9.

Turning point: The Clippers held Utah to 5-17 three-point shooting through the first 18 minutes. The team then went on a 13-4 run in the second to lead the Jazz 59-46 at the half.

Los Angeles maintained a healthy lead for most of the second half, but saw a fourth-quarter rally from the Jazz. Utah shortened the gap to 99-93 6:56 left in the fourth, thanks to an 18-7 run.

Luckily for the Clippers, that’s as close as it would get before Leonard fueled an LA scoring run. With 4:48 remaining, the Clippers led Utah 111-93 and only continued to climb from there. 

What it means: The Clippers advance to 11-10 this season and surpass .500 for the first time since early November. They are now riding a three-game winning streak while also claiming eight of their last 11 games. 

The team also ends two droughts against two separate teams with their most recent win over Utah. Before LA put a nail in the coffin of an 11-game road loss streak with the Jazz, they ended an 8-game losing streak against the Denver Nuggets. 

Hits: Aside from Leonard, Paul George also impressed with 20 of his own points after only having 2 in the first half. George was 8-13 from the field with three rebounds, two assists, six steals and a net rating of +14.

Misses: Two of Los Angeles’ backup centers were on the injury report. Mason Plumlee continues to recover from an MCL injury while recent addition Daniel Theis was added to the report early Friday with an illness. Meanwhile Utah’s leading scorer Lauri Markkanen missed his seventh straight game due to a left hamstring strain.

Stat of the game: Leonard’s dominant performance on both ends of the ball led to a season-high 41 points with five rebounds and five assists on 6-of-8 three-point shooting. He was also 60.9% from the field.

Up next: The Clippers will return to Arena for a four-game homestand that spans across six days and features the Portland Trail Blazers, Sacramento Kings, Golden State Warriors and New York Knicks.