NBA Wrap: Kawhi Leonard’s ‘face was rearranged’; Warriors in trouble; LeBron’s airball excuse
Los Angeles Clippers star Kawhi Leonard must have wondered what he did wrong when all he got for Christmas was an elbow in the face.
The traditional Christmas clashes delivered some lopsided results but the Clippers did enough to claim a 121-108 victory over the Denver Nuggets.
The Nuggets had knocked the Clippers out of the playoffs last season but more troubling was the fourth quarter injury for Leonard.
Seen as one of the best players in the world after leading the Toronto Raptors to the NBA title in 2018/19, Leonard signed a four-year $A142m contract with the team, linking with Paul George.
But he was constantly criticised in 2019/20 after popularising the term “load management” by missing games in a bid to extend his career.
He had a legitimate reason to sit on the sideline courtesy of his new teammate Serge Ibaka as he bled heavily from his mouth after copping a brutal accidental elbow.
While trying to go for a rebound, Leonard turned with Ibaka coming through and rocking his star teammate.
Leonard dropped to the floor.
He was quickly attended to with a puddle of blood next to him on the floor while he had blood all over his arm.
He was helped from the floor and it was later revealed he needed eight stitches in his mouth.
Post-match, Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said “He got up and walked off the floor, so he’s going to be good”.
Fellow superstar teammate Paul George was stunned by the moment.
“Really worried,” George said. “I was thinking of the worst. I didn’t know if he was concussed or how hard of a hit (it was) or what actually happened, because I didn’t see it. I just saw him laying on the ground. That was first and foremost, just making sure he was OK.”
Clippers teammate Nicolas Batam also admitted it was a scary scene.
“You don’t want a player, any player, (to) go down like that with blood all over him and everywhere on the floor,” Batum said. “I think he’s good. I just saw him in the locker room; he was OK, and that was kind of scary in the moment.”
Leonard scored 21 points for the match with George scoring 23, while Nikola Jokic lead the way for the Nuggets with 24 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds.
WARRIORS COP 60-YEAR HIDING
On a Christmas Day packed with lopsided results, the Golden State Warriors took it to the next level.
The Warriors were never in the hunt against Giannis Antetokounmpo’s Milwaukee Bucks.
But Giannis took a back seat as Khris Middleton scored 31 points in a monster game as everyone on the roster was able to contribute.
It was a 138-99 thrashing of the Warriors, the second most lopsided blowout in the NBA Christmas game, beaten only by the Syracuse Nationals’ 162-100 win over the New York Knicks in 1960. So, it could have been worse.
The Bucks blew the Warriors off the court in the second half, winning 72-43.
“We just wanted to put on a show,” Middleton said.
It gives the Warriors an 0-2 start to the season and they are the first team since the 1989-90 Warriors to lose their first two games by at least 25 points.
At -65, the Warriors also have the second worst points differential through two games, beaten only by the 1987-88 Clippers, who had -71 and claimed the worst record in the NBA that season.
LEBRON’S HILARIOUS REASON FOR AIRBALL
If you want proof that superstars can still make mistakes, look no further than LeBron James against the Mavericks.
The Lakers were leading 91-79 in the third quarter when the King was fouled and sent to the free throw line.
In a moment the commentators almost missed, LeBron threw up an airball in a surprising miss.
It did not escape the journos after the game though and LeBron, with a big smile on his face, said he needed to change up the way he drinks wine in the future to avoid the blunder happening again.
“What I told you the other night when I drink the wine goes straight down to the left side of my body. Tonight I shot free throws with my right hand so it had bad side effect. So I’ll see if I can drink some wine if I can shoot it to the right side of my body maybe it’ll help my free throws and it’ll give me a little more strength to where it doesn’t hit absolutely nothing so we’ll see, we’ll see what happens. Maybe I have to drink upside down tonight maybe vampire style, we’ll see.”
CHRISTMAS DAY SCORES
Miami Heat 111-98 New Orleans Pelicans
Milwaukee Bucks 138-99 Golden State Warriors
Boston Celtics 95-123 Brooklyn Nets
LA Lakers 138-115 Dallas Mavericks
Denver Nuggets 108-121 LA Clippers
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