Basketball

Short-handed LA Clippers find a way to beat Sacramento Kings

George's season highs of 11 rebounds, 9 assists help title hopefuls claim victory

Paul George and Kawhi Leonard had far more success passing the ball in the first half than they did shooting it - and the Los Angeles Clippers still put up nearly 60 points.

That, as Leonard pointed out after their 105-87 win over the Sacramento Kings, bodes well for a franchise in serious pursuit of their first NBA championship.

George had 21 points with season highs of 11 rebounds and nine assists to shake off a slow start and help the short-handed Clippers to a win yesterday morning (Singapore time).

Leonard scored 14 of his 24 points in the third quarter to help the visitors to their 14th consecutive win in Sacramento dating to 2013.

"That's what championship teams are about," said Leonard, who led Toronto to the title last year before signing with the Clippers in hopes of bringing a banner to Los Angeles.

"Going through play-off runs, the best players aren't going to play great some nights. It might be somebody off the bench or somebody (else) starting that has a big game that propels us to win."

Ivica Zubac added eight points and 13 rebounds and Maurice Harkless scored 12 points for the Clippers.

The visitors also got a big lift from Larry Shamet and Derrick Walton Jr., who combined for 19 points.

That was pivotal on a night when George shot six of 25 and Leonard was eight of 21.

"We just kind of hung in there," Los Angeles coach Doc Rivers said. "We went zone a little bit and changed our look. I just like our defence."

The Clippers played without Patrick Beverley and sixth man Lou Williams. Beverley is nursing a sprained right wrist he injured during Saturday's loss in Utah, while Williams missed the game because of personal reasons.

Richaun Holmes had 22 points and 10 rebounds for Sacramento. The Kings have lost eight straight.

"They pushed us around out there and they had their way," Sacramento coach Luke Walton said.

"We have to come together and we've got to be mentally stronger, physically stronger and fight our way out of it.

"That's the only way to get out of this type of slump that we're in, and we've done it before."

The Clippers have alternated wins and losses over the past nine games. George said that's indicative of a team with new players still trying to adjust.

"We've probably got one game under our belt where everybody's been healthy," he said. "We're still learning each other. Our winning streak's going to come, sooner than later I believe."

Over in Houston, James Harden scored 35 points after missing the last game with an injury to lead the Rockets to a 130-104 victory over the Denver Nuggets.

The Rockets were back to full strength after Harden missed his first game of the season because of a sprained right toe in Sunday's loss to New Orleans.

Clint Capela (bruised heel) and Russell Westbrook (load management) also returned after sitting out on Sunday in the 127-112 defeat.

Nikola Jokic scored 21 points for the Nuggets, who had a two-game winning streak snapped.

Westbrook had 28 points for his 11th straight games with 20 or more points, which is the longest streak by a Rockets player besides Harden since Yao Ming did it in 14 games in a row in 2006. - AP

OTHER RESULTS: Charlotte 92 Boston 109, San Antonio 117 Golden State 113 (OT), Toronto 117 Cleveland 97, Oklahoma 106 Dallas 101, Indiana 115 Philadelphia 97

Basketball