Like LeBron James on Friday, Kawhi Leonard Disappeared When It Mattered Against the Nuggets

Leonard scored zero points in the fourth quarter of Saturday's game two loss against the Nuggets

Kawhi Leonard backs down Gary Harris
Kawhi Leonard of the LA Clippers drives the basket against Gary Harris of the Denver Nuggets during the first quarter in Game Two of the Western Conference Second Round during the 2020 NBA Playoffs.
Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images

What happened to the Los Angeles stars this weekend? One day LeBron James put up zero points in the fourth quarter of the Los Angeles Lakers’ game one loss to the Houston Rockets on Friday, his counterpart on the Clippers, Kawhi Leonard, did the same, allowing the Denver Nuggets to hang on to even the series in Saturday’s game two.

There is one diffference, though: unlike James, who had a solid game through three quarters before going missing, Leonard had one of his worst games as a Clipper, shooting 4-of-17 from the floor — 0-for-3 from three-point land — and turning the ball over four times, tied for a game-high. The Nuggets made his life difficult, sure, but after a first quarter blitz from Denver, the Clippers had plenty of time to crawl back in. They just didn’t get support from their best player.

To really drive home how unusual his game two performance was, Saturday’s loss snapped Leonard’s streak of 15 straight playoff games scoring over 20 points. He was stellar during Toronto’s championship run last season, and the Clippers are going to need that Leonard to hold off Denver, particularly if the Nuggets shoot like they did in the first half of Saturday’s game, where they scored 72 points.

In Saturday’s other game, Leonard’s old team evened their series against the Boston Celtics, with the Raptors riding a big third quarter to victory. Considering that Toronto was one magical OG Anunoby game-winner in game three away from being down 3-0, crawling back to a 2-2 series is huge. Toronto still goes through a bit too many hot-and-cold streaks — they only scored 18 points in the second and 19 in the fourth — to feel confident in taking two of the next three games, but as they proved over the last two, the Raptors have no quit right now.

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