BY BRIAN MAHONEY, AP Basketball writer
NEW YORK (AP) – Even the NBA’s leading defensive team couldn’t hold back the rising Los Angeles Clippers.
Kawhi Leonard scored 28 points and the Clippers posted the season’s highest scoring against the New York Knicks on Sunday, winning 129-115 for their 10th win in 11 games.
The Clippers shredded the NBA leaders in the fewest points per game, which were allowed to break off after a lead at half time. Even when they played without two starters, they beat the 102.7 points per game the Knicks allowed with their first basket of the last quarter and tossed it out on their third straight win.
“We’re just a pretty good attacking team,” said Paul George.
“We split the ball, we move it, we look for the open man, we emphasize missing good shots for great ones and I think we’re doing pretty well,” he said.
Reggie Jackson added 18 points and George had 17 for the Clippers, who made 17 3 points and shot a total of 54% against a Knicks team that also led the league in that category, improving to 16-5.
“It’s been a good trip so far and I think we have something special going on there,” said Clippers striker Marcus Morris.
Julius Randle had 27 points and 12 rebounds for the Knicks. Rookie Immanuel Quickley added 25 points and RJ Barrett 23, but the goal wasn’t the problem for a Knicks team that had limited the opponents to 42.6% shooting.
“I thought it was good offensively. Defensively, it’s not what we would have liked, ”said Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau.
The game’s start time was postponed by four hours to 1pm by the NBA, although neither that nor the good early shooting of the Knicks seemed to bother the Clippers. New York made eight of their first ten shots and led much of the first half before the Clippers took a 66-65 advantage at break.
Los Angeles came back from the locker room with seven straight points and didn’t slow the rest of the third quarter. Leonard and Jackson each scored 10 points over the period the Clippers scored five 3-point points and scored 35 points, leading them to fourth with 101-91.
Quickley scored eight direct points to take a 10 point lead on 105-103, but the Clippers responded nine points in a row to open a 114-103 lead on Leonard’s basket mid-way through the period. An 8-0 run later in the fourth game made it a 15-point game.
Clippers: Nicolas Batum had an injury in his left groin. Patrick Patterson started and scored 13 points, walking 5v5 off the field with three 3-pointers. … Lou Williams’ 250. Career game with at least five assists from the bench surpassed JJ Barea for most of those games in NBA history.
Knicks: The previous point high for the Knicks was 121 for Indiana at the season opener. … Reggie Bullock, who missed the last three games with a sore throat, returned to the starting grid and scored eight points. … C Nerlens Noel was scratched with an aching left groin just before the game.
Thibodeau supports Dennis Smith Jr.’s request to play for the Knicks’ G League partner to get the job. The previous lottery that Kristaps Porzingis sent to Dallas two years ago has appeared in just three games this season.
“His attitude was very positive. He worked hard in practice, ”said Thibodeau. “I think it’s a great tool. It’s an opportunity for him to take part in games, which I also find very important. I’m glad he did that and I know he’s looking forward to it. I think it’s good for him and it’s good for us. “
Clippers: Stay in New York on Tuesday to visit Brooklyn.
Knicks: Visit Chicago on Monday.
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