Leonard returns, hits game-winner as Clippers beat Hornets

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Kawhi Leonard had 16 points, including an 18-foot jumper with 1.4 seconds to lift the Los Angeles Clippers to a 119-117 victory over the Charlotte Hornets on Monday night in his return from a right ankle sprain.

Paul George also came back from a strained hamstring to score 19 points along with seven assists for the Clippers, who snapped a two-game losing streak. Reggie Jackson and Nic Batum each had 13 points, and John Wall added 12 points and 12 assists off the bench.

Luke Kennard added nine points off the bench in his first game back from an injury as well.

Kelly Oubre had 28 points and P.J. Washington bounced back from an 0-for-13 shooting night on Saturday night to add 26 for the Hornets. Washington missed a fadeaway jumper as time expired that would have tied the game.

Getting Leonard, George and Kennard back should provide a huge boost for the Clippers (14-11) moving forward. Leonard has been out since Nov. 21, George since Nov. 19 and Kennard since Nov. 15 with a calf strain.

But the win didn't come easily.

The Hornets (7-17) outscored the Clippers 26-8 to start the third quarter behind eight points from Terry Rozier to take an 80-71 lead.

Charlotte carried a six-point lead into the fourth quarter, but it didn't last long as Kennard was fouled on a 3-point shot and converted the free throw. Then Batum, a former Hornet, knocked down a 3-pointer from the corner to give the Clippers the lead.

The Hornets would recover to take a 117-115 lead on a baseline jumper by Rozier with 1:34 left in the game.

But the Clippers tied it up when George saved an offensive rebound from going out of bounds by flicking the ball to Leonard under the basket for an easy basket. After Jalen McDaniels missed a 3 at the other end, Leonard hit the go-ahead shot.


Clippers: Norman Powell remained out with a groin strain. ... Shot 15 of 36 from 3-point range.

Hornets: LaMelo Ball has now missed 21 of 24 games this season with a high ankle sprain. Gordon Hayward has missed 13 games with shoulder issues, Cody Martin 23 games with a knee injury and Dennis Smith Jr. 10 games with a right ankle sprain.


Clippers: At Orlando on Wednesday night.

Hornets: At Brooklyn on Wednesday night.


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Steve Reed, The Associated Press