It may have been closer than the last meeting between the two teams, but the Clippers once again dominated the Kings for the second time in six days, earning a 115-96 win for their fifth straight victory.
Kawhi Leonard led the way for the Clippers with 32 points, five assists, and six steals. Paul George was lighter in the scoring column with 19 points but tied a career high with 12 assists.
George got things started for the Clippers with a clean midrange jumper over De’Aaron Fox. But any illusions that this would be another offensive explosion for the Clippers were quickly dispelled when the Clippers only scored one field goal over the next five minutes; even though their ball movement was excellent, they were just missing shots. The Clippers were letting the Kings get into the paint too easily, though, allowing 14 in the first quarter. Buddy Hield broke loose for a transition three and scored eight points in the period, and eight Kings got on the board.
The first half was interspersed with incredible highlights and sloppiness. To wit, Paul George had his first multi-dunk game of the season, finishing a lob from Marcus Morris Sr. (which he almost never does) and then splitting the defense for a slam.
Paul George splits the two Kings defenders and throws it down pic.twitter.com/SoBSHO3b8z— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) January 21, 2021
But the Clippers also had ten turnovers, including three from Kawhi Leonard. On one play, Leonard got the ball stripped at halfcourt and made little effort to get back, which let Buddy Hield feed Richaun Holmes for a dunk.
Even though they were careless with possession, the Clippers at least were disciplined in transition defense, outscoring the Kings 14-3 in transition. They ended the half with an 8-3 run by forcing three turnovers in the final two minutes and went into the break with a five-point lead.
Once again, though, the Clippers turned things around to start the third quarter. They tightened up their defense, though many of Sacramento’s errors were unforced, and built a 21-point lead in the period. It was third straight game the Clippers have won the third quarter by at least 15 points. Leonard was outstanding in the third quarter, scoring 12 points and adding three assists. He was also active in the passing lanes with two steals that led to another four points.
It seemed like the Clippers had the game wrapped up at that point, but the Kings had some unexpected life left in them. They put together a 15-4 run to begin the fourth quarter. Head coach Ty Lue didn’t mess around, though, and got Leonard back into the game 38 seconds after he took his rest to regain control. Leonard proceeded to baptize the Kings on the ensuing possession.
Kawhi Leonard now up to 30 points after this dunk. pic.twitter.com/e8QngrQ1vS— Justin Russo (@FlyByKnite) January 21, 2021
The Clippers lead stayed in double digits for the remainder of the game, and they even got some garbage time minutes for Daniel Oturu and Mfiondu Kabengele. Successful outing for the home team, who now welcome old friend Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and the Oklahoma City Thunder for a two-game set this weekend.