LOS ANGELES (AP) — Kawhi Leonard scored 28 points, Paul George added 27 and the Los Angeles Clippers defeated the short-handed New Orleans Pelicans 111-106 on Wednesday night.
The Pelicans were missing starters Zion Williamson, Lonzo Ball and Eric Bledsoe. Together, they account for 46.1 points and 15.6 rebounds per game. New Orleans coach Stan Van Gundy said Williamson was ruled out because of inconclusive test results.
Nickeil Alexander-Walker led the Pelicans with 37 points and eight rebounds, both career highs in his first start of the season.
They didn’t get much production out of two other first-time starters. Josh Hart finished with six points, and former Clipper Sindarius Thornwell was scoreless.
Brandon Ingram’s jumper drew the Pelicans within four, the closest they came in the fourth quarter.
From there, Leonard and George combined to score 16 consecutive points. Leonard’s 3-pointer that restored the Clippers’ lead to double digits had team owner Steve Ballmer whipping his right arm in the air from his seat next to the basket. Leonard finished with nine assists.
Alexander-Walker scored nine in a row for the Pelicans, but he couldn’t singlehandedly outduel the Clippers’ two stars.
Ingram added 22 points and Jaxon Hayes had 10 rebounds for the Pelicans, who dropped their fourth in a row. They hadn’t played since losing at Charlotte last Friday. Their game at Dallas on Monday was postponed, delaying the start of what was scheduled as a seven-game trip.
The Clippers rode a dominant second quarter, in which they outscored the Pelicans 33-15, to an 18-point halftime lead. Los Angeles maintained a double-digit lead in the third, when George didn’t score and Leonard had six points.
Pelicans: Bledsoe sat out with right eye irritation and Ball has bilateral knee tendinopathy.
Clippers: Nicolas Batum got his 3,000th career assist in the first quarter.
Pelicans: At the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday.
Clippers: At the Sacramento Kings on Friday.
More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports