LOS ANGELES (AP) — Paul George delivered a stunning performance with 27 points, while Kawhi Leonard contributed 23 points as the Los Angeles Clippers triumphed over the Portland Trail Blazers with a 123-111 victory in their thrilling season opener on Wednesday night.
Last season, the Clippers struggled with injuries to both Leonard and George, resulting in their disappointing elimination from the playoffs in the first round. However, with both players back in action and fully healthy, expectations are high for the Clippers as they aim to secure the franchise’s first-ever NBA championship.
Speaking of his return, Leonard expressed his satisfaction, stating, “It feels good. I’m happy I had a productive offseason and I’m now back to full health.”
Ivica Zubac was a crucial contributor with 20 points and 12 rebounds, while Russell Westbrook showcased his playmaking abilities with 11 points and 13 assists, becoming the first Clippers player to achieve 13 assists in a season opener since Andre Miller in October 2002.
In an impressive display, Leonard made all five of his 3-point attempts, contributing to the Clippers’ record-breaking 16 3-pointers in a season opener. The team also recorded a franchise-high 36 assists in the game.
Coach Tyronn Lue commended the team’s effort and competitiveness, stating, “I love how hard we played tonight and how we competed. We need to maintain this level of performance every night.”
The Blazers, playing without Damian Lillard who was traded to Milwaukee, were led by Malcolm Brogdon with 20 points off the bench. Anfernee Simons added 18 points for Portland, while Deandre Ayton battled foul trouble but managed 12 rebounds. The Blazers had a total of six players scoring in double figures.
The Clippers asserted dominance from the beginning and never relinquished their lead. They even held a commanding 30-point advantage in the second half. The team showcased their athleticism with seven of their first eight baskets being thunderous dunks, featuring contributions from five different players. In total, they recorded an astounding 16 dunks throughout the game.
Coach Lue praised Westbrook’s performance, stating, “Russ starting the game was tremendous. He really led the charge for us.”
The Clippers extended their lead to 20 points with a decisive 20-7 run in the second quarter, with George scoring 10 points and multiple players sinking 3-pointers during the run.
However, turnovers remained a concern for the Clippers as they committed 17, with Leonard and George each responsible for four turnovers.
Terance Mann, originally named the Clippers’ fifth starter, was unable to play due to an ankle sprain. Robert Covington stepped in as his replacement and contributed five points.
In his NBA debut, Portland guard Scoot Henderson made an impressive start with 11 points in 36 minutes.
Trail Blazers: Host Orlando on Friday in their home opener.
Clippers: Visit Utah on Friday in a one-game trip.
AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/nba
Olivia Wilson is a trendsetter in the world of digital culture. With an eagle eye for emerging trends and viral phenomena, she keeps readers up-to-date with the latest online sensations, memes, and pop culture trends. Olivia’s passion for staying ahead of the curve is infectious.