The Clippers, 115-110, defeated Kevin Durant and the Suns, thanks to a game-high 38 points by Leonard.
As Russell Westbrook struggled mightily from the field, Kawhi Leonard had a spectacular shooting performance.
The Los Angeles Clippers defeated the Phoenix Suns by a score of 115-110 in Sunday’s first game of their Western Conference playoff series. Both players significantly affected the outcome of the game for the Clippers.
Leonard scored 38 points, including two late 3-pointers, while Westbrook was a threat in every category but the scoring column. Leonard’s performance helped the Spurs win the game. Even though he only made three of his 19 field goal attempts, the veteran guard concluded the game with nine points, ten rebounds, eight assists, three blocks, and two steals.
Westbrook said that during his whole career, he takes satisfaction in the fact that he has participated in every aspect of the sport. “I’ll do everything it takes to win the game, no matter what it takes from me.”
That is precisely what occurred in the last thirty seconds of the game. Westbrook made both free throws with 17.7 seconds remaining, giving the Thunder a three-point lead. On the other end of the court, Devin Booker attempted to make a layup, but Westbrook blocked his shot and swatted the ball off of Booker’s hands, giving the Clippers possession of the ball with 10.1 seconds left.
Eric Gordon contributed 19 points for the Clippers and made a late 3-pointer that helped them maintain their lead.
While Kevin Durant scored 27 points for the Suns, they could not win the game despite his presence on the court. Phoenix made the trade in February that sent the two-time NBA Finals MVP to Brooklyn. Since then, injuries have restricted him to just eight games, all of which the Suns have won.
Devin Booker contributed 26 points for Phoenix, which will play its next game at home on Tuesday, looking to avoid slipping into a 2-0 deficit.
The Suns were down by 109-103 with 1:33 left to play, but they could score the next five points to pull even. In the subsequent play, the Clippers successfully grabbed many offensive rebounds, but Westbrook ultimately needed to make both of his free throws.
Playoff basketball, according to Leonard, is “making winning plays, getting deflections on balls, offensive rebounding, and getting us into our sets.” “Even if you don’t have the greatest night shooting, you still need to influence the game in some manner, and he accomplished that today,” the coach said.
The majority of the game was won by Los Angeles, who was in control until the middle of the third quarter. As part of a 15-0 run that ultimately resulted in a 77-68 lead for the Suns, Torrey Craig scored back-to-back baskets for the Phoenix Suns, including one on a spectacular fast-break slam that put the score ahead 70-68.
The Clippers could make a comeback and level the game at 81 points each going into the fourth quarter, thanks to Leonard’s 12 points scored in the third quarter.
According to the head coach of the Clippers, Tyronn Lue, “They’re going to make a run at home, and we expected that.” We built quite a lead, but they made a rush, and now we need to retain our cool and be ready to beat them off. Everyone who performed here tonight did a fantastic job.
Leonard, a two-time winner of the Most Valuable Player award for the Finals who was playing in his first postseason game since June 14, 2021, caused most of his damage from the mid-range, but in the latter stages of the game, he ventured beyond the 3-point line. He finished the game with a field goal percentage of 13 for 24 after hitting a 3-pointer with 2:36 remaining and another at the 2-minute mark.
Paul George, an eight-time All-Star, was not on the court for the Clippers, and the team’s performance suffered. The previous month, he had a sprain to his right knee, and it is still unknown whether or not he will be able to participate in this series.
In the first 10 minutes of play, the Clippers had a commanding lead of 30-18 thanks to 12 baskets scored by Gordon. In the first quarter, the Suns had a field goal percentage of just 31.8, while Kevin Durant did not score any points.
Even though “we would prefer to have better beginnings,” Durant acknowledged that “occasionally it occurs.” It is not so much what happens to you as how you react.
Before eventually making good on one of his field goals attempts early in the second quarter, Durant had a rough start, missing his first five shots from the floor. It calmed the 34-year-old veteran’s nerves as he poured in 17 points before halftime, which contributed to the Clippers’ advantage being sliced to 59-54.
The Suns could extend their winning run in postseason Game 1s to six games before it was stopped.
Booker said, “We recognize that it is not going to be an easy task.” “It’s going to become more difficult from here. As I go back to my first (playoffs), I remember thinking that every defeat was the worst thing that could happen and that every victory meant I would win the rest of them. It’s simply the way things work out in the playoffs.“
George has not participated in a Clippers game since March 21… Ivica Zubac finished the first half with 10 points and 11 rebounds.
Suns: G Cam Payne could not play because of pain in his lower back. He suffered an injury in the game that was the second-to-last one of the regular season… They were playing their first home playoff game since Game 7 of the Western Conference semifinals last year when they were defeated by the Dallas Mavericks by a score of 33 points.