LA Clippers: Kawhi Leonard’s triple-double & takeaways from Miami

LA Clippers Kawhi Leonard (Photo by Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images)
LA Clippers Kawhi Leonard (Photo by Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images) /

After a week filled with turmoil, the LA Clippers, led by a career-first triple-double by Kawhi Leonard, pulled out a win against the Miami Heat.

This week was by far the best of the season for the LA Clippers. After blowing a 21 point lead in Atlanta (albeit without Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, and Patrick Beverley), a piece from The Athletic came out detailing some turmoil in the team’s locker room.
While the piece was more of a look at how they were overcoming the adjustments, the title (which was later changed) did enough damage and embroiled the Clippers in the media cycle. With their next game in Miami against a team with only one home loss being broadcasted nationally on ESPN, it quickly became a question of how they would respond.

Although they started shakily, the team was ultimately able to pull out a 122-117 win. Here are three takeaways from the victory.

1) Kawhi Leonard’s first triple-double

Kawhi had been pointed out as a vocal leader this week, bringing the team together for film sessions. His leadership continued on the court where he earned his first career triple-double.

It was a tale of two halves. In the first half, Leonard could not find his shot. He had only seven points on two of eleven shooting. However, he was affecting the game in other ways. He had six assists and six rebounds, the former being a career-high for a half.

In the second half, he turned it on. He came out firing and did not miss a shot until partway into the fourth quarter. In the second half, he scored 26 points going seven of eleven from the field, including going four of six from deep.

We all celebrated his triple-double a little prematurely as the statistician took away a rebound between the third and fourth quarter but Leonard ultimately earned his first career triple-double.

He finished the night with 33 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists, and added in two steals for good measure. After the game, Doc Rivers gave him the game ball.

2) Zubac got minutes!

Clipper Nation as a collective complained about the lack of Ivica Zubac‘s minutes in the second half of the loss to Atlanta and it seems Doc Rivers took notice.

Zubac played 18:43 in the game which is only a minute above his average but it was the timing of his play that made us take notice.

As opposed to his normal rotation, Zubac remained in the game in the third quarter until around the 4:00 mark. Montrezl Harrell came in later and finished the game as usual but progress is progress.

While Zubac was not super efficient last night, (four points on two of seven shooting, eight rebounds, and two assists) it was nice to see him at least get a little extra burn in the second half. Hopefully, Doc doesn’t take this performance in a vacuum and use it to justify not playing him more in the second half of games.

3) We need Bev back

With Patrick Beverley still on the mend, the Clippers opted to start Jerome Robinson. I’m not going to lie, I was hoping he would show up and at the very least be impactful on defense. He left me disappointed. Rome’s only stats on the night were a single assist and personal foul. He did nothing memorable and was benched to start the second half.

After the game, Doc lamented that they were forced to have Landry Shamet run the point, something he was not fond of doing. Shamet did have 22 points after connecting on six three-pointers, the majority of which came in the second half. Once he was forced into ball-handling duty, his production dropped.

It’s becoming more and more obvious that Doc Rivers does not trust any of his young guards (Terance Mann, Derrick Walton Jr., and Robinson) so Beverley needs to come back sooner rather than later. I highly doubt he won’t suit up for Tuesday’s marquee matchup versus the Lakers but should he go down again any time this year, the team may be in trouble.

Rumors that they are looking at point guards like Kris Dunn are starting to make a little more sense and we’ll soon see how the front office tweaks the roster.

Next. Kawhi Leonard named All-Star starter. dark

The Clippers head to Orlando next to face the Magic on Sunday night at 3:00 pm PST.