NBA Roundup: Kawhi Leonard lifts Clippers past Hornets

Clippers forward Marcus Morris Sr. punches the ball away from Hornets forward PJ Washington during their game Monday in Charlotte, NC Scott Kinser/Associated Press

CHARLOTTE, NC — Kawhi Leonard had 16 points, including an 18-foot jump by 1.4 seconds, to beat the Los Angeles Clippers Monday night in his return from a right ankle sprain in a 119-117 win over the Charlotte Hornets respectively.

Paul George also returned from a strained hamstring and recorded 19 points and seven assists for the Clippers, who suffered a two-game losing streak. Reggie Jackson and Nic Batum each had 13 points, and John Wall added 12 points and 12 assists from the bench.

Luke Kennard also added nine points from the bench in his first game from injury.

Kelly Oubre had 28 points and PJ Washington rebounded from a 0-for-13 shooting night Saturday night to add 26 for the Hornets. Washington missed a fadeaway jumper after time was up that would have tied the game.

The return of Leonard, George and Kennard should give the Clippers (14-11) a huge boost. Leonard has been out since November 21, George since November 19 and Kennard since November 15 with a calf strain.

BUCKS 109, MAGIC 102: Giannis Antetokounmpo scored five of his 34 points in the last two minutes to help the Milwaukee Bucks stave off a late rally in Orlando, Fla.

Bobby Portis added 18 points and 10 rebounds for the Bucks, and Jrue Holiday added 17 points, eight rebounds and 10 assists.

Franz Wagner led Orlando with 25 points. Markelle Fultz and Paolo Banchero each added 20 points. Banchero also had 12 rebounds for the Magic, who lost their ninth straight.

Antetokounmpo, Sandro Mamukelashvili and Holiday scored 3 points midway through the first half in a 16-0 run against Milwaukee while Orlando remained scoreless for 5 1/2 minutes. The sprint left the Bucks an 11-point lead that they extended to 15 midway through the period.

Fultz and Banchero led an attack in the third quarter to bring the magic back into play. A 3-pointer from Franz Wagner made it 69-62, and a Wagner layup late in the fourth quarter cut Milwaukee’s lead to 98-92.

A 3-pointer from Terrence Ross put Orlando within four points with 2:20 left, but a tackle on Antetokounmpo was canceled with two minutes left, putting the Bucks star on the line and fouling Orlando’s Moritz Wagner out of the game . Wagner finished with 19 points and 12 rebounds.

Antetokounmpo made both free throws and scored on a subsequent layup, giving the Bucs a 104-97 lead by 1:22.

Thunder 121, Falcon 114: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 35 points, Josh Giddey had 12 of his 17 points in the final period and Oklahoma City overcame a 14-point deficit in the third quarter to win in Atlanta.

Dejounte Murray finished with 24 points and Trae Young had 23 points and 10 assists for the Hawks (13-11), who have blown six double-digit leads this season. They started the night with the second-highest ranking in the NBA in that category.

With its third straight win, Oklahoma City (11-13) has beaten its last three opponents 106-68 in the fourth. The Thunder was 88-84 behind in the closing stages.

Grizzlies 101, Heat 93: Tyus Jones had a career-high 28 points and 10 assists to lead outmanded Memphis to a win over Miami in Memphis, Tennessee.

Santi Aldama added 18 points and Dillon Brooks finished with 17 points for Memphis, who were without top scorer Ja Morant and several other key players.

Tyler Herro led the Heat with 23 points and 13 rebounds. Jimmy Butler, who had just one field goal in the first half, scored 18 and Caleb Martin finished the race on 16.


LAKERS: Anthony Davis is healthy. His numbers have never been healthier.

And it’s no coincidence that the Los Angeles Lakers are playing the way they imagined.

With 99 points in his last two games — his highest in a span of two regular-season competitions — Davis is doing something few in league history have done before. He shot 40-57 from the floor in those games, his 44-point performance in Milwaukee on Friday followed by a 55-point burst in Washington on Sunday.

“Body feels great, I’m working on my game in the gym, we’re coming together as a unit, so things are going well for us at the moment,” Davis said.

The Lakers are 8-2, 7-2 in their last 10 games if Davis plays in that span. From some perspective, before that stretch they were only 7-20 in Davis’ last 27 appearances — much of it because either he or LeBron James, or both, were either sidelined by injuries or trying to get through them.

But eventually Davis – who has been limited to 60 games for the last two seasons – has his health and game back. He’s averaging 28.6 points, a league-best 12.8 rebounds, and all on 59% shooting. All three of those numbers are on track to become the career bests for the eight-time All-Star, who is making a run to break into the MVP conversation.

76ERS: James Harden will return for the Philadelphia 76ers against the Houston Rockets after missing 14 games with a foot injury.

Harden, who spent just over eight seasons with the Rockets before being traded to Brooklyn in January 2021, last played on Nov. 2. He had a tendon strain in his right foot.

Harden won the 2018 MVP award with the Rockets and was a three-time scoring champion while in Houston.

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