Kawhi Leonard scored a team high 35 points and surpassed 10,000 career points as the Los Angeles Clippers rallied to edge the Chicago Bulls 130-127 in the NBA on Sunday.
Leonard earned the bulk of his points during an explosive third quarter in which he scored 21, a career high for one quarter.
He finished with seven three-pointers in the game, including one in the third period that allowed him to reach the milestone.
“We shot the ball well tonight and we got stops at the end of the game,” said Leonard, who hit 14 of 22 shots. “I never make excuses.”
The Clippers scored the first basket of the game but did not lead again until the third quarter when Leonard drained his seventh basket from beyond the arc.
Asked how he has been able to stay focused long enough to reach 10,000 career points, Leonard said, “Just hard work and dedication. I spend hours in the gym. I pretty much grind it out every day, and I have my mind set on a goal.”
The Clippers were able to regroup Sunday after a crushing 115-105 loss two days earlier to the Golden State Warriors, when they surrendered a 20-point lead.
Paul George had 28 points, seven rebounds and nine assists and Lou Williams came off the bench to score 21 points for the Clippers, who averted their first three-game losing streak of the season.
The Bulls hung in there, but suffered another disappointing close loss. They lost by two points to the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday and by four points to the Sacramento Kings two days earlier.
Zach LaVine scored a season-high 45 points and he made 10 three-pointers for the Bulls, who lost their third consecutive game. Garrett Temple added 18 points and Patrick Williams had 17 points. LaVine’s finished just shy of his personal high of 49 points.
The Clippers outscored the Bulls 42-35 in the third quarter to go into the fourth with the game tied 94-94.
Nicolas Batum completed a four point play with 2:30 remaining in the fourth to give the Clippers the lead for good.
In the final seconds, LaVine put up an airball from three point range and then George nailed two free throws to seal the victory.
Elsewhere, Mike Conley had 22 points and Rudy Gobert grabbed 20 rebounds as the Utah Jazz slipped past the Detroit Pistons 96-86.
The NBA also postponed Sunday’s game between the host Boston Celtics and Miami Heat due to ongoing Covid-19 protocols.
Miami did not have the required eight available players to play the game while the Celtics were down to the NBA minimum of eight.