Kawhi Leonard Praised by NBA Twitter Despite Clippers' Loss to Jayson Tatum, Celtics

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IIDecember 30, 2022

BOSTON, MA - DECEMBER 29: Kawhi Leonard #2 of the LA Clippers drives to the basket during the game against the Boston Celtics on December 29, 2022 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE  (Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images)
Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images

Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard enjoyed one of his best games of the season Thursday thanks to 26 points on 11-of-16 shooting, but the Boston Celtics held off a late Clips charge to earn a 116-110 home win.

Leonard missed all of last season with a partial tear of his right ACL. He returned for this season's opener and played 21 minutes before taking one game off and suiting up for 21 more minutes in the Clippers' third matchup of the season.

However, Leonard then missed his team's next 12 games due to right knee injury management. He returned to the lineup on Nov. 17 and averaged 23 minutes over the next three matchups but then missed six more games due to a right ankle sprain.

Leonard struggled over his first eight games, averaging 11.6 points on 39.8 percent shooting in 25.0 minutes.

But he's looked far more like his superstar self of late, averaging 22.3 points on 51.5 percent shooting, 7.2 rebounds and 4.2 assists in 31.8 minutes per game in his last six matchups entering the Celtics game.

He kept the good vibes rolling Thursday with 15 points and six rebounds in the first half to keep L.A. in the game. The Clippers held a one-point lead going into the fourth quarter, but the Celtics were too strong down the stretch en route to the win.

Still, this was an encouraging result for the Clippers as Leonard continued to roll and L.A. went blow-for-blow with the team sporting the NBA's best record.

Twitter recognized Leonard's superb evening.

Tomer Azarly @TomerAzarly

Kawhi Leonard with another solid performance in a season-high 37 minutes:<br><br>26 points<br>8 rebounds<br>3 assists<br><br>11-of-16 FG<br>3-of-6 3PT<br>1-of-1 FT

๐‰๐ฎ๐ฌ๐ญ๐ข๐ง ๐‘๐ฎ๐ฌ๐ฌ๐จ @FlyByKnite

No matter how this road trip shakes out for the Clippers, the good news has undoubtedly been that Kawhi Leonard looks like Kawhi Leonard again.

A Man With No Name @SnottieDrippen

Kawhi Leonard looks really, really good offensively. Strong, fast, if he's not what he used to be, he's damn close

Shane Young @YoungNBA

Since returning on Dec. 5, Kawhi Leonard is averaging 23.6 points per 36 minutes.<br><br>He's shooting 55.2% from two, 33.3% from three, and 75% at the line over those 10 games.

ู…ุ› @MohsenMedhat10

Kawhi Leonard is such a beast

Jimmy neutron ๐Ÿ›ธ @dacoryowens14

Kawhi Leonard really back!! He's a top player in the league easily

The Clippers are certainly happy to see Leonard on the court and thriving. Despite the loss, they are 11-4 with him and 10-12 without him this season.

They'll return to the court Saturday when they visit the Indiana Pacers.