Kawhi Leonard underlined playing basketball gives him joy after draining a game-winner in the Los Angeles Clippers' 119-117 win over the Charlotte Hornets. After being out for two weeks, Leonard returned to the Clippers' lineup on Monday night.
Against the Hornets, Leonard scored 16 points and had six rebounds. With the game tied, Leonard knocked down a step-back midrange jumper to give the Clippers a 119-117 win. "It felt good to be back. I love this game of basketball.
I don't think nobody loves playing more than me. Maybe [people love] watching [more]. But I love this game. And it gives me joy when I am able to play. That ending is great that I was able to make that shot. We're [leading by] nine, eight points pretty much the whole game.
I would rather close it out than have to [grind it] out like that," Leonard said after the game, per ESPN.
Paul George of having Leonard back
Leonard, who missed the entire last season due to a torn ACL injury, played just his sixth game of this season on Monday night.
After Leonard came up big for the Clippers, George said he was happy to see Leonard doing his thing. "Any time you see Kawhi going to the spot, that's where he is comfortable. And that's where we are comfortable. So, I swung the ball.
I wanted to get it to him right there and he took it home with his shot," George said of Leonard. Meanwhile, Clippers head coach Ty Lue said it "mentally huge" for Leonard to make a game-winning shot. "It was huge. A great momentum builder for him going forward and just happy to see those guys back on the floor.
Thought PG did a great job, especially in that first half of scoring the basketball, distributing the ball and getting guys easy shots. Those guys on the floor, it's going to cause teams to double-team, teams to do some things they're not used to doing and we're going to get open shots, so just continue to keep building off this," Lue said of Leonard hitting a game-winner.
With the win over the Hornets, the Clippers now own a 14-11 record. On Wednesday, the Clippers will be taking on the Orlando Magic on the road.