The LA Clippers have made sure the 51-point loss to the Dallas Mavericks was just a blip on the radar with a 23-point lead over the Portland Trail Blazers.
After going down by a record 50-points at halftime to the Mavericks on Tuesday AEDT before a won over the Minnesota Timberwolves yesterday, the Clippers made no mistake with superstar Kawhi Leonard returning, as the Clippers lead by 18 at the break, and won every quarter.
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But while the win returns the league to the status quo, fans were taken by Leonard’s new accessory as the star returned to the floor with a face mask.
Leonard missed the last two games after needing eight stitches following an accidental elbow to the face by teammate Serge Ibaka on Christmas Day.
He was left bloodied on the floor.
Post-match, Kawhi said the mask was uncomfortable on the floor.
And while the internet had a field day, the 29-year-old also had a laugh.
“S***, it’s hard to breathe in that mask,” he said post-game. “They started calling me Leatherface and stuff. Serge (Ibaka) can’t talk too much, we got him on the trading block right now, so whoever wants him let us know because we’re trying to trade Serge.”
The mask didn’t appear to affect him on the court however as he tallied 28 points, three rebounds and seven assists alongside Paul George’s 23 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists controlled the game.
But the fans couldn’t help but notice the similarity in the superstar’s mask and that of fictional serial killer Hannibal Lecter among other jokes.
Complex’s Keith Nelson Jr. tweeted: “What … the f*** … is Kawhi wearing?”
And fans better get used to the new look with Leonard admitting he’ll be wearing the mask until the stitches in his jaw and lip heal.
He said he wouldn’t return until he could open his mouth and move his jaw again.
LAMELO’S EIGHT-YEAR FIRST AS TEMPERS ERUPT
LaMelo Ball may not have been the number one pick in the Draft but he’s certainly playing like he was.
After his scoreless debut, Ball became the first Charlotte Hornets rookie to record 15 points, five rebounds and five assists since Kemba Walker did it in 2012 as his side defeated the Mavericks 118-99.
Ball ended up with 22 points, eight rebounds and five assists, leading the way for his side on the scoresheet in 29 minutes.
It’s a big turnaround after he started with a scoreless debut in the NBA but has quickly settled in and found his groove.
He hit four from five from outside the three-point arc and seven from 10 from the floor.
But his performance was somewhat overshadowed as two players were ejected as James Johnson and Cody Martin had to be separated following a should and headbutt.
It saw both players sent from the court.
LEBRON’S LATEST NBA RECORD
LeBron James has celebrated his 36th birthday Wednesday with another NBA milestone, scoring double-digit points for the 1000th straight game in the Lakers’ 121-107 victory over the Spurs in San Antonio.
James finished with 26 points to extend his already record streak of double-digit games in the regular season.
He sealed the milestone midway through the second quarter with a turnaround jump hook that gave the Lakers a 46-37 lead.
“I just try to live in the moment and just try to continue to get better with my game, try to get better with my teammates and try to just maximise when I’m on the floor,” James said, who is in his 18th NBA campaign after leading the Lakers to the 2020 title in the league’s quarantine bubble in Orlando.
“I’ve been blessed to play the game that I love for 18 years and hopefully I can continue to play at a high level.”
James’ double-digit scoring streak began on January 6, 2007, when he was playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
“It’s a tribute to his tenacity level … his commitment to excellence,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said before the game. “He deserves a lot of credit for being the consummate professional. His mental state along with his physical state really makes him really special.” Shortly after James reached the milestone, Popovich was ejected from the contest for arguing with officials.
Assistant Becky Hammon took over on the Spurs bench, becoming the first woman to direct a team in an NBA game.
Anthony Davis scored 20 points and pulled down nine rebounds for the Lakers, newcomer Dennis Schroder added 21 points and four assists.
HEAT BOUNCE BACK FROM BLOWOUT
The Miami Heat rebounded from an embarrassing 47-point loss to Milwaukee with a 119-108 NBA victory over the Bucks.
The Heat didn’t have to wait long for revenge as they hosted the Bucks for the second straight night.
Goran Dragic came off the bench to lead Miami with 26 points, Bam Adebayo added 22 points, eight rebounds and 10 assists and Tyler Herro scored 21 points with a career-best 15 rebounds as the Heat rallied to stave off another home defeat.
The Bucks had dominated on Tuesday with an NBA-record 29 three-pointers in their 144-97 triumph.
The Bucks, fuelled by a triple-double of 26 points 13 rebounds and 10 assists from two-time NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, looked like making it two wins in a row when they led by 14 in the third quarter.
Donte DiVincenzo scored 15 points and Jrue Holiday added 13 for the Bucks, but the Heat rallied despite missing Jimmy Butler for the second straight game.
“You want to constantly develop some grit and toughness during the course of a long season, and our guys responded in an appropriate fashion,” said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, who acknowledged before the game that there was “a lot of anger and frustration” after the blowout loss on Tuesday.
“As well there should have been,” he said.