Kawhi Leonard Posts 1st Career Triple-Double as Clippers Beat Jimmy Butler, Heat

Blake SchusterContributor IIIJanuary 25, 2020

Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard, left, goes to the basket as Miami Heat forward Bam Adebayo defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, Jan. 24, 2020, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

The Los Angeles Clippers appeared to brush past the latest media chatter Friday with a 122-117 road victory, handing the Miami Heat just their second loss this season at AmericanAirlines Arena. 

Earlier this week, The Athletic's Jovan Buha and Sam Amick reported growing discontent following the offseason additions of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, a notion sparked in part by comments center Montrezl Harrell made to reporters earlier this year.

Patrick Beverley @patbev21

Fake fake fake NEWS!!! https://t.co/ODeW7RJOBq

Friday marked a bounce-back victory after the Clips fell to the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday. It was their sixth loss to a team under .500 this season and came with George (hamstring) and point guard Patrick Beverley (groin) on the sidelines.

Los Angeles has now won seven of its last 10 contests. 


Notable Performers

  • Kawhi Leonard, SF, Clippers: 33 points, 10 assists, 10 rebounds
  • Landry Shamet, SG, Clippers: 22 points, six assists, two rebounds
  • Jimmy Butler, SF, Heat: 20 points, eight rebounds, seven assists
  • Kelly Olynyk, PF, Heat: 19 points, nine rebounds
Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Tyler Herro said "You can't guard me" after this shot on Landry Shamet 😳 https://t.co/u89eEgPZWN


Kawhi records first career triple-double 

On any other night, Leonard's career-high seventh straight 30-point game would be the most noteworthy event. 

Not this time. Not with him reaching a new plateau eight years and three teams into his career. Amazingly, until Friday night in Miami, Leonard had never recorded a triple-double. 

Michael Lee @MrMichaelLee

Folks have spent so much of this season whining about load management that they've chosen to ignore that when Kawhi Leonard actually plays, he's better than he's ever been. First career triple-double is a culmination of his improved playmaking & passing, once his glaring weakness

Anthony Chiang @Anthony_Chiang

I still can't believe that was Kawhi Leonard's first triple-double. Erik Spoelstra couldn't either. Spoelstra: "What do you mean first triple-double? Of his career? Wow."

Leonard was initially credited with his 10th rebound—and therefore the triple-double—at the end of a third quarter in which he was a perfect 5-of-5 from the field. He headed back to the bench, as it looked like the Clippers had the game in hand. Neither turned out to be true.

LA Clippers @LAClippers

KAWHI IN THE CLUTCH! 📺 @FoxSportsWest | @kawhileonard https://t.co/SS8BlUGtll

LA Clippers @LAClippers

👌🏾 Back-to-back triples from @kawhileonard en route to a 17-point third quarter. (📺 @FoxSportsWest) https://t.co/uAPZClu3eJ

LA Clippers @LAClippers

. @ivicazubac☝🏼 ⬇ @kawhileonard ⬇ @pdpatt👌🏾 📺 @FoxSportsWest | #ClipperNationn https://t.co/O5KpvInZxs

The 10th rebound was taken away, and the Miami Heat were far from dead. That forced Leonard back into the game to cut off a comeback attempt and finish filling his stat sheet. 

With time running out in the fourth quarter, Tyler Herro got trapped on the wing, dribbled to the corner and let it fly. The bucket could've cut the lead back to single digits. Instead, Leonard reached up and pulled down the board.

LA Clippers @LAClippers

☑️ First career triple-double. Game ball goes to @kawhileonard. https://t.co/25NGYFB7SB

Andrew Greif @AndrewGreif

What will Kawhi do with the game ball? "Just take it home. You know what I mean? I don’t know. Might shoot with it." https://t.co/V5S4MFlHdl


Butler beat up in loss

There was no question Jimmy Butler wanted to prove just how wrong All-Star voters were to leave him out of the starting lineup.

Instead, he was subjected to a physical affair that saw him forced back to the locker room with four minutes left in the game and the Heat mounting a comeback. 

First, Butler was poked in the eye. Then, he tried to recover after rolling his ankle, only to roll it again late in the contest. With that, Miami ruled him out for the rest of the night, a brutal blow for a team that had been so dominant at home this season.

Michael Lee @MrMichaelLee

Even if it's only for one night, I'm thoroughly excited to see the return of some Philly cheese swag. Dion Waiters pulling up from anywhere, giving the crowd how-ya-like-me-now stares & bopping into his b-boy stance is the best Dion Waiters. Missed that guy.

Miami HEAT @MiamiHEAT

Bam. Adebayo. Is. So. Strong 💪💪💪 https://t.co/q1IaNgF57o

Miami HEAT @MiamiHEAT

# of 1st half 👌's: 👌👌👌👌👌👌👌👌 https://t.co/FlKxvyDwN7

Miami HEAT @MiamiHEAT

🔥THIS ENTIRE SEQUENCE 🔥💥 https://t.co/P4ktaRK2zo

Miami HEAT @MiamiHEAT

🚨 DION WAITERS BUCKETS 🚨 https://t.co/SvoihupzwM

The Heat won't play again until Monday, giving Butler a bit of time to heal, but it's a setback any way you look at it. With an opportunity to hand the Clippers back-to-back losses, Miami let them steal a win in a building few teams have found success in. 

There'll be plenty of questions as to how much pain Butler was in after rolling his ankle the first time on Friday. If the injury is serious, the Heat will be forced to continue without their star player as they try to hang on near the top of an Eastern Conference race that's getting tighter. 


What's Next?

The Clippers' five-game road trip out east continues Sunday against the Orlando Magic at Amway Center before they fly home for what's technically a road game against the Lakers at Staples Center. That kicks off a four-game homestand leading up to the Feb. 6 trade deadline. 

Miami will also face the Magic next, playing them Monday. The Heat will want to take advantage of their time at home, as seven of their next 10 games will take place away from AmericanAirlines Arena.