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Clippers throttle Knicks for NBA-best 7th straight victory

Adam Pantozzi / National Basketball Association / Getty

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A month ago, the Los Angeles Clippers were in a six-game skid. They’ve certainly got things figured out now.

Kawhi Leonard scored 36 points and Paul George added 25 in a 144-122 rout of the New York Knicks on Saturday night for their NBA-best seventh straight victory.

The Clippers were one game into their losing streak when they lost to the Knicks in New York on the same night James Harden made his LA debut after being traded from Philadelphia.

“We still got to continue to keep getting better,” coach Tyronn Lue said, “but the progress is being made.”

The difference now is the Clippers are getting used to Harden and he’s learned their habits and preferences.

“Just clicking with everybody on the team,” Leonard said. “We’re in a good rhythm right now. There’s some minor things we still need to get better at.”

The Clippers used a 42-point second quarter to lead 77-66 at the break.

Leonard hit a 3-pointer that launched a personal 8-0 run early in the third and later he and George combined to make three straight 3-pointers in building a 22-point lead.

Leonard has scored 169 points in 177 minutes on 65% shooting.

“I’m focused on something bigger than that stretch,” Leonard said, hinting at the Clippers’ NBA title hopes.

George was back in the lineup after missing a game because of a sore hip. He overcame a slow start in the first half when he had six points.

New York’s Jalen Brunson followed up his career-high, 50-point effort in Phoenix on Friday night with 22 points. Julius Randle added 22. RJ Barrett and Donte DiVincenzo had 18 points each, with DiVincenzo making five 3-pointers.

The Knicks narrowly avoided giving up their most points since 1990.

“Right now no one is playing great defense,” coach Tom Thibodeau said. “We got to fix that as a group.”

Brunson, who was 9 of 9 from 3-point range against the Suns, was just 2 of 5.

Leonard and George took over in the third. They combined to score 30 of LA’s 37 points, with the Clippers taking a 114-98 lead going into the fourth.

The Clippers lost 111-87 in New York on Nov. 6 when Harden made his debut after being traded by Philadelphia. He’s settled in and the Clippers have adjusted to his playmaking that has been on display during their streak. Harden had 10 points and 12 assists.

Josh Hart was ejected after picking up two quick technicals for comments to the ref early in the second. Russell Westbrook waved goodbye as Hart walked off. Randle also had words with the ref at the end of the period and received a tech.

“The game was being called tight and we got frustrated with that,” Thibodeau said. “We can’t let that get us sidetracked.”

Trailing 58-56, the Clippers closed on a 21-8 run to lead 77-66 going into the break. They ran off 13 straight points, hitting consecutive 3-pointers by Harden and by Terance Mann, who had two.

The Clippers attempted 30 free throws, which were the most any team has attempted in a first half this season. They made 26, with Leonard hitting all of his six.


Josh Primo made his Clippers debut with two points and one block in the game’s final five minutes.

The guard was waived by San Antonio on in October 2022 after being accused by the Spurs’ former team psychologist of exposing himself to her multiple times during their private sessions. The district attorney’s office in Texas declined to bring charges, citing a lack of evidence.

In September, the Clippers signed Primo to a two-way contract.


Knicks: At Los Angeles Lakers on Monday night.

Clippers: At Indiana on Monday night.