Los Angeles Clippers forward Paul George, left, fouls Portland Trail Blazers guard Anfernee Simons (1) during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Monday, December 11 2023. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

LOS ANGELES – Kawhi Leonard scored 34 points and the Los Angeles Clippers defeated the Portland Trail Blazers 132-127 on Monday night for their fourth consecutive NBA victory.

Paul George had 20 points, eight rebounds and eight assists for the Clippers, and James Harden added 20 points, seven rebounds and seven assists. Ivica Zubac scored 18 goals as Los Angeles moved to 9-3 since its worst six-game skid of the season.

Leonard has scored 75 points in his last two games.

“The most important thing is health and finally getting into a rhythm with PG and James as the starters,” Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said.

Portland was without Deandre Ayton, who missed his third straight game, and Malcolm Brogdon, who sat out the second game in a row. Both have pain in their right knee.

Anfernee Simons scored a career-high 38 points and Shaedon Sharpe added 27 for the Blazers, who fell to 0-8 against West on the road.

“I knew it was going to be a tough game for us,” Lue said. “Defensively, we couldn’t stop. They scored in every way.”

Simons was perfect from the free throw line, scoring a career-high 13 points in his fourth game of the season. He returned last week after missing 18 games with a torn ligament in his right thumb.

The Blazers made a season-high 19 3-pointers. Simons had five and Sharpe four.

“We played well, man,” Blazers coach and former Clipper Chauncey Billups said. “We just keep dismantling no matter what.”

Sharpe's basket gave Portland its first lead of the quarter, 121-120, after trailing by six.

The teams traded one-point leads, with Terance Mann hitting two free throws to put the Clippers ahead 124-123. George scored and Leonard hit two more free throws for a five-point lead.

Simons was fouled by George and did both to pull the Blazers within three with 16 seconds remaining. Simons' dunk left Portland trailing 130-127 before George sank two free throws to seal the victory.

“My team is in a good rhythm, that’s all I care about,” Leonard said. “Tonight the ball found me and I hit it.”

The Clippers closed out a third on a 12-5 run that gave them a 105-99 lead.

The Blazers hit 10 3-pointers in the period, including five in a row early, but never led by more than five points. Russell Westbrook scored seven consecutive goals in the Clippers' run, which gave them back control.

Portland erased a double-digit deficit in the second and took the lead on a basket from former Clipper Moses Brown that ended the run at 8-0. George's basket put the Clippers ahead 66-65 at halftime.

The Clippers shot 79% in the first quarter, building a 14-point lead behind Zubac's 14 points.


Harden sank a one-handed dunk in the third, his first since joining the Clippers 1 1/2 months ago.

“Let's make this clear. I can still dunk,” said the 34-year-old, 10-time All-Star. “I have guys who can do better.”


“When you’re trying to build something, there’s going to be some pain in it. It’s not easy because I love winning everything I do.” – Billups.

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Trail Blazers: Host the Utah Jazz on Thursday to open a five-game homestand.

Clippers: Host the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday to complete a back-to-back.



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