EditorsNote: Shortened headline; Designated home team in lede graf
Kawhi Leonard hit a go-ahead jumper with 15.4 seconds, lifting the host Los Angeles Clippers to a 122-119 victory over the Houston Rockets on Friday night.
Lou Williams scored all 26 of his points in the second half. Leonard finished with 24 points and six rebounds, while Paul George had 19 points, eight rebounds and seven assists for the Clippers, who won their fourth in a row.
James Harden had 37 points, 12 assists and eight rebounds for the Rockets, who dropped their second straight after an eight-game winning streak. Russell Westbrook scored 22 points and Clint Capela had 17 points and 19 rebounds.
Williams hit a 3-pointer with 30.8 seconds left, giving the Clippers a 118-117 lead before two free throws by Harden gave the Rockets a one-point advantage with 22.1 seconds remaining. After Leonard’s bucket, George converted two free throws with 1.2 seconds remaining for the difference.
It was the first meeting between Westbrook and George, who spent two seasons together with the Oklahoma City Thunder, after the latter requested a trade to the Clippers to play with Leonard. The Thunder dealt Westbrook to the Rockets a short time later.
The Clippers dictated the first half.
Two free throws by George gave them a 46-32 advantage midway through the second quarter. However, the Rockets answered with a 13-0 surge to cut the gap to 46-45 after Austin Rivers made a pair from the line with 3:49 remaining in the second.
The Clippers, though, didn’t relinquish their first-half edge, taking a 55-51 lead at the break.
In the third, the Rockets used a 14-2 run, which included a four-point play by Harden, for a 65-57 lead after a 3-pointer by Westbrook at 8:03 of the quarter. The Rockets increased the margin to as much as 11 before a 17-6 burst allowed the Clippers to tie the score at 76 after a trey by Williams with 2:30 left in the third.
Houston led 84-80 heading into the fourth quarter.
This was the second meeting within the past 10 days between the two teams. The Rockets earned a 105-95 win in the previous one on Nov. 13 behind 47 points by Harden.
—Field Level Media