NEW YORK (AP) — Not even the NBA’s leading defensive team could slow down the surging Los Angeles Clippers.
Kawhi Leonard scored 28 points and the Clippers rang up the highest point total of the season against the New York Knicks on Sunday, winning 129-115 for their 10th victory in 11 games.
The Clippers shredded the NBA leaders in fewest points per game allowed to break away after leading by one at halftime. Even playing without two starters, they surpassed the 102.7 points per game the Knicks had been allowing with their first basket of the final quarter and kept pouring it on in their third straight victory.
“We’re just a pretty good offensive team,” Paul George said.
“We share the ball, we move it, we look for the open man, we emphasize passing up good shots for great ones and I think we do a pretty good job of doing that,” he said.
Reggie Jackson added 18 points and George had 17 for the Clippers, who made 17 3-pointers and shot 54% overall against a Knicks team that led the league in that category as well while improving to 16-5.
“It’s been a good ride so far and I think we’ve got something special going on over there,” Clippers forward Marcus Morris said.
Julius Randle had 27 points and 12 rebounds for the Knicks. Rookie Immanuel Quickley added 25 points and RJ Barrett added 23, but scoring wasn’t the problem for a Knicks team that had been limiting opponents to 42.6% shooting.
“I thought offensively it was good. Defensively it’s not what we would have liked,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said.
The game’s start time was moved up four hours by the NBA to 1 p.m., though neither that nor the Knicks’ good early shooting seemed to bother the Clippers. New York made eight of its first 10 shots and led for a good part of the first half before the Clippers took a 66-65 edge into the break.
Los Angeles came back from the locker room with seven straight points and didn’t slow down the rest of the third quarter. Leonard and Jackson each scored 10 points in the period, when the Clippers made five 3-pointers and scored 35 points, taking a 101-91 lead to the fourth.
Quickley scored eight straight points to cut a 10-point lead to 105-103, but the Clippers answered with nine in a row to open a 114-103 advantage on Leonard’s basket midway through the period. An 8-0 run later in the fourth made it a 15-point game.
Clippers: Nicolas Batum sat out with a left groin injury. Patrick Patterson started and scored 13 points, going 5 for 5 from the field with three 3-pointers. … Lou Williams’ 250th career game with at least five assists off the bench surpassed J.J. Barea for the most such games in NBA history.
Knicks: The Knicks’ previous high for points allowed was 121 to Indiana in their season opener. … Reggie Bullock, who missed the last three games with a sore neck, returned to the starting lineup and scored eight points. … C Nerlens Noel was scratched shortly before the game with a sore left groin.
GET IN THE GAME
Thibodeau supports Dennis Smith Jr.’s request to play for the Knicks’ G League affiliate to get some needed work. The former lottery pick acquired two years ago in the deal that sent Kristaps Porzingis to Dallas has appeared in just three games this season.
“His attitude has been very positive. He’s worked hard in practice,” Thibodeau said. “I think it’s a great tool. It’s an opportunity for him to play in games, which I think is very important also, so I’m glad he’s approached it that way and I know he’s looking forward to it. So I think it’s good for him and it’s good for us.”
Clippers: Stay in New York to visit Brooklyn on Tuesday.
Knicks: Visit Chicago on Monday.