The LA Clippers continue to take care of business on the road, as they faced and beat the Chicago Bulls 125-106 at United Center on Friday.
Kawhi Leonard had a characteristically dominant performance on the night, but the rest of the supporting cast did their part on offense, as a balanced effort meant the Clippers led the game nearly the entire way.
Ty Lue used the same starting five in Chicago that he used in Wednesday’s win over the Minnesota Timberwolves, with Patrick Beverley back in and Reggie Jackson in for Paul George, who remained out with a foot injury.
Coby White, fresh off a 30-point night, buried two 3-pointers to open the game for the Bulls, and Leonard left the game inside of the first two minutes, after an apparent injury on a drive to the basket. Leonard went quickly into the locker room as the Clippers sought to regroup.
They came back and took a 9-6 lead, but then Serge Ibaka rolled his ankle before four minutes had passed and came right out of the game. On the bright side, Leonard soon returned to the bench and came back into the game with LA leading 13-6. LA controlled the rest of the 1st quarter, but a late rally from the Bulls made the scoreline a little more respectable, the Clippers ending up with a 30-25 lead after 12 minutes.
The 2nd quarter was pretty nondescript, LA leading throughout but the Bulls staying within a basket or two the whole way. Ibaka was back in the game and the return of him and Leonard was important, as the duo combined for 21 points in the first half to lead the Clippers, as they went into the locker rooms leading 58-54.
The Clippers were hot to start the 3rd quarter, going on a 7-0 run, and extended the lead a little bit. Leonard started cooking and scored 16 points in the stanza, and LA ended it with a 90-78 edge.
Midway through the 4th quarter, the Clippers started to pull away and Marcus Morris Sr. hit consecutive 3-pointers to extend the lead to 19 points. Lou Williams was immense to close out the game, playing the role of scorer and facilitator to keep the Bulls from getting back in the game.
Aside from Leonard’s 33 points in 33 minutes of action, four other Clippers (Williams, Morris, Jackson and Ivica Zubac) were in double digits in scoring in the game, Morris hitting five 3-pointers in the 4th quarter to put the game out of reach. The balanced effort from the team is a great sign to show the Clippers can win more than one way when missing one of their stars.
The Clippers get Saturday off, and then they’ll host the Cleveland Cavaliers Sunday evening at Staples Center. The Cavs sit in 12th place in the Eastern Conference, but with the games coming so fast, you never know how it’ll go.