Los Angeles Clippers star forward Kawhi Leonard shed his cumbersome protective face mask and enjoyed a big game against the Chicago Bulls on Sunday. Leonard, the 2019 NBA Finals MVP, scored a team-high 35 points as the Clippers edged out the Chicago Bulls 130-127 to bounce back from blowing a 22-point lead against the Golden State Warriors a game earlier.
Leonard went 14-of-22 from the field against the Bulls and interestingly didn't shot a single free throw. Leonard was exceptional from beyond the arc as he shot 7-of-9 his three pointers. Leonard tied his career-best of making seven threes in a game.
Also, Leonard scored 21 points in the third quarter and hit five three pointers -- most he has ever scored points and threes in a quarter -- and he also reached the 10,000-point mark. "It's a steppingstone," Leonard said afterward, as quoted on ESPN.
"But to be honest, I really don't care about it. ""My eye is on the next day, next game. ... Maybe when I retire, I'll sit back and look at the accomplishments. But right now, it's about being greedy and wanting more."
Lou Williams happy for Leonard
Clippers guard Williams also had a good performance as he contributed to the team's win with 21 points and a crucial steal late in the fourth quarter. Williams was happy to see Leonard playing without a mask and just being himself on the court.
"I'm sure he was happy just being back to himself," Williams said of Leonard. "And not having to deal with the mask and how it affects how he plays or how he breathes or anything. I'm sure it's a great feeling when you get in a zone like that.
He put us on his back. "That was the perfect timing when we needed him. Usually a lot of times we know him for his defensive abilities, but on the offensive end tonight, that's what carried us." Toward the end of the game, Leonard grabbed his left leg but he managed to finished the game.
Leonard wasn't worried about it as he expects to be ready to play the New Orleans Pelicans. "Yeah, I'm good," Leonard said. "We've got two days off [to recover], and I'll be ready on Wednesday."
A game earlier, the Warriors had another second half collage and Leonard acknowledged: "We've got to change it. We've got to get better." The next game, Leonard led his team to a win.