The Los Angeles Clippers got up for their first game against former coach Doc Rivers, downing his NBA Eastern Conference-leading Philadephia 76ers 122-112.
Kawhi Leonard scored 28 points, Terance Mann added a season-high 23 for the Clippers as stopped the 76ers’ six-game road winning streak in Los Angeles on Saturday night.
The Clippers won their fifth straight by playing the same type of basketball they did during seven seasons under Rivers – getting points in transition and strong games from Leonard and Paul George, who had 24 points.
Rivers led the Clippers for seven seasons and directed them to six playoff appearances. He took the Philadelphia job less than a week after being fired by Los Angeles.
For the 76ers, who are still without injured ace Joel Embiid, Tobias Harris had a game-high 29 points and Danny Green added 17 while Australia’s Ben Simmons was held to 15 points.
The Clippers are third in the Western Conference.
“They kept on the attack and moved the ball,” said Rivers. “You can see they all trust each other with the ball. Kawhi and Paul played well. If they continue to do all that, they are going to be hard to stop.”
Philadelphia got off to a hot start and jumped out to a 21-11 lead with less than five minutes remaining in the first quarter before the Clippers got on track and led by five at halftime.
In Embiid’s absence, 76ers centre Dwight Howard was ejected for the second straight game when he picked up two technical fouls with 10:35 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Joe Ingles’ Utah Jazz (34-11) boosted the best season record in the NBA when they beat the Memphis Grizzlies 126-110 in Salt Lake City.
Australian Ingles contributed 15 points as Donovan Mitchell led the way with 35 points and seven assists and Jordan Clarkson came from the bench to score 28.
The Jazz (34-11) made 19 3-pointers and shot 50 per cent from the field overall on their way to their 19th consecutive win at home.
Fellow Aussie veteran Patty Mills continued his fine season for the San Antonio Spurs with 16 points in a 120-104 win over the Chicago Bulls which snapped gthe Spurs’ four-game losing streak.
San Antonio nearly blew a 36-point lead but held on to win for the first time since defeating Cleveland on March 19.