NBA playoffs: Kawhi Leonard scores 38, leads Clippers past Suns

April 17 (UPI) -- Kawhi Leonard scored a game-high 38 points, including 25 in the second half, to lead the Los Angeles Clippers to a tight victory over the Phoenix Suns in Game 1 of a Western Conference playoff series.

Leonard made 13 of 24 shots and logged five rebounds and five assists in the 115-110 win Sunday at the Footprint Center in Phoenix.


"We gotta give it our all," Leonard told reporters. "It's just Game 1. We've got a lot to do."

Clippers guard Russell Westbrook made just 3 of his 19 shots, but provided great defense and made clutch free throws down the stretch to assist in the victory.

The game featured six lead changes and was tied 11 times. The Clippers led by as many as 16 points. They outscored the Suns 34-10 off the bench.

The Clippers and Suns played a tight game through the start of the first quarter. The Clippers used a 15-3 run to build a 33-18 edge at the start of the second quarter. Clippers guard Eric Gordon scored 12 points over the first 12 minutes.


Suns star Kevin Durant answered with 17 points in the second quarter. The Suns outscored the Clippers 36-29 in the frame, but still trailed 59-54 at halftime.

Leonard scored 12 in the third, but the Suns outscored the Clippers 27-22 to tie the score at 81-81 to start the fourth.

The Suns tied the game four times through the first four minutes of the final quarter. Durant made a jumper with 6:50 remaining to give the Suns a 96-95 edge, but Leonard answered with a shot on the next possession to give the lead back to the Clippers.

Guard Terance Mann made a layup, was fouled and sank a free throw less than two minutes later and the Clippers never trailed again.

Westbrook made two free throws to push the Clippers lead to 111-108 with 17.6 seconds remaining. He went on to block a layup from Suns guard Devin Booker about seven seconds later to preserve the advantage.

Westbrook totaled just nine points, but also recorded 11 rebounds, eight assists and three blocks. Gordon totaled 19 points in the win.

Durant led the Suns with 27 points, 11 assists and nine rebounds. Booker totaled 26 points in the loss. Suns forward Torrey Craig scored 22 points. Veteran guard Chris Paul logged seven points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists for the Suns.


The Suns will host the Clippers in the second game of the best-of-seven series at 10 p.m. EDT Tuesday in Phoenix.

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