Los Angeles Clippers

Kawhi Leonard's 38 points power LA Clippers to hard-fought win over the San Antonio Spurs

Kawhi Leonard
(NBA Getty Images)

After resting on the first night of a back-to-back against the Utah Jazz, Kawhi Leonard was back against the Spurs and they definitely need him.

He poured in a game-high 38 points, his highest point total for the Clippers, helping the team remain an unbeaten 3-0 at home.

Here are the biggest takeaways from the finale of a short three-game schedule:

Kawhi Leonard's big night

Leonard rarely has a bad shooting night - he has shot 49.8% from the field in 64 previous games since the start of the 2018-19 season - but when he does, he more than makes up for it.

Against the Spurs, he shot 46.9% (15-32 FG's) from the field, uncharacteristically missing more mid-range field-goals attempts than he normally would but he more than made up for it grabbing with 12 rebounds and four steals (both highs with the Clippers).

Some of his field goals were simple fastbreak dunks after he stole the ball on the other end.

More importantly, he took over when it mattered, scoring 15 of the team's 23 in a crucial fourth quarter.

Three-point shootout this was not

Gregg Popovich and Doc Rivers are two of the most experienced minds in basketball.

The matchup between the veteran coaches defied the 2019-20 shootout style, however, though, we should hardly be surprised by that. Popovich, in particular, has voiced his displeasure with the league falling in love with the three-point shot, and his Spurs team continues to shy away from the league-wide 'let it fly' mantra.

Coming into the game, the Spurs were ranked dead last for three-point attempts per game (23.0), while the Clippers were also in the bottom ten, ranked 23rd (29.5).

With that in mind, this game followed the script, with both teams combining for just 47 attempts from beyond the arc - Houston and Milwaukee combined for 94 attempts in their matchup last week.

As was already mentioned above, Leonard attempted to dissect the Spurs defence in the mid-range, while DeMar DeRozan also feasted in that area for his 29 points, with eight of his 13 made baskets coming between the restricted area and the three-point line.

The conversation will continue, but you can be assured, for Popovich and Rivers, the mid-range is far from dead.

Spurs' veterans struggle in first loss

Prior to this game, the Spurs were the only unbeaten team in the West.

All of their three wins came at home but in this one, despite the close six-point margin of defeat, the Spurs' veteran group including LaMarcus Aldridge, Patty Mills and Rudy Gay struggled from the field.

DeRozan did have 29 points on an efficient 13-of-21 shooting, but he did contribute seven of the team's 18 turnovers. LaMarcus Aldridge, in 36 minutes, just finished with five points (2-8 FG's) and was a -10.

Off the bench, Rudy Gay finished with nine points, 12 rebounds, and four assists in his 26 minutes but shot 3-of-10 from the field. In 22 minutes, Patty Mills could only record six points.

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