Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard on Return, Game-Winner: ‘It Gives Me Joy to Play’

Star forward Kawhi Leonard finally returned to Clippers, and to steal a line from ABC’s Mike Breen, Leonard came back with a bang.Kawhi Leonard

More specifically, Leonard rose up and buried the game-winning 18-footer with 1.4 seconds to go, lifting the Clippers to a 119-117 road win over the Hornets on Monday. It marked his first game since Nov. 21, as he sat out to manage his surgically repaired knee.

“I don’t think anybody loves playing this game more than me,” Leonard said, via the Associated Press. “It gives me joy when I’m able to play. And it was great that I was able to make that shot.”

Along with Leonard, the night marked the returns of fellow star forward Paul George and shooting guard Luke Kennard. George finished with 19 points, Leonard scored 16, point guard John Wall went for 12 points and 12 assists, and Kennard scored nine.

“This is really a great opportunity to kind of get back on track,” George said. “We were playing well when we were healthy and now we can start building toward the team we were trying to be.”

As for the game-winner, Leonard said it all comes down to getting to a place where you feel comfortable.

“My teammates trusted me,” he told reporters. “I was able to get in my spot and my team gave me space. I was able to knock down a shot.”

The Clippers (14-11) are 4-0 when Leonard plays.

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