LOS ANGELES: Kawhi Leonard delivered 38 points, Montrezl Harrell chipped in 24 and the Los Angeles Clippers defeated San Antonio 103-97 on Thursday (Friday in Manila) to knock the Spurs off their undefeated perch.
Leonard, who did not dress for Wednesday’s game at Utah so he could rest, also grabbed 12 rebounds for his first double-double this season.
“I have the heart of a champion and I just tried to stay focused,” said Leonard, who played seven seasons with the Spurs from 2011 to 2018.
Leonard has now scored 30 or more points in three of his first five games with the Clippers, who he signed with as a free agent during the offseason.
DeMar DeRozan scored 29 points and Derrick White added 20 for the Spurs, who suffered their first loss of the young season dropping to 3-1.
After so much time with the Spurs, Leonard’s relationship with the team eventually deteriorated. He was traded in July 2018 to the Toronto Raptors in a deal that sent DeRozan to Texas.
Leonard went on to lead the Raptors to their first NBA title last season in a six-game victory against the defending champion Golden State Warriors. But the title wasn’t enough to keep Leonard in Toronto.
The Spurs were eliminated in the first round last year by the Denver Nuggets.
Clippers coach Doc Rivers said Leonard didn’t develop into one of the best players in the league by accident. He is one of the hardest working players on and off the court in the NBA.
Elsewhere, undrafted guard Kendrick Nunn scored a career-high 28 points to power the Miami Heat to a 106-97 win over the Atlanta Hawks.
Embiid, Towns hit with two game bans
Meanwhile, the NBA has slapped a pair of All-Stars Karl-Anthony Towns and Joel Embiid with two game suspensions for their roles in a fight during Wednesday night’s contest in Philadelphia.
Minnesota Timberwolves star Towns and Philadelphia’ Embiid were both ejected after the dustup which took place in the third quarter of the 76ers’ 117-95 home win.
NBA vice-president Kiki VanDeWeghe made the announcement on Thursday, saying the bans are in response to an “on-court altercation and for their continued escalation following the incident.”