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LOS ANGELES, Feb 20 ― Kawhi Leonard returned from a leg injury to score 29 points as the revitalised Los Angeles Clippers beat the NBA-leading Utah Jazz in the second of a two-game set yesterday in Los Angeles.
With both Leonard and Paul George back in the lineup after sitting out with injuries, the Clippers held on to beat the Utah Jazz 116-112 to snap the team's nine-game winning streak.
Leonard returned after a three-game absence due to a bruised leg, George missed seven-games with a sore toe. Both couldn't play in the Clippers' 114-96 home loss on Wednesday to the red-hot Jazz.
The Jazz's trademark during their win streak has been finding different ways to get the job done, but that didn't matter on Friday as they were outrebounded by the Clippers 45-38.
The Clippers had five players in double figures, including both Leonard and George, who scored 15 as they beat the Jazz for the first time this season. Lou Williams added 19 points, Patrick Beverley had 17 and Marcus Morris chipped in 17 off the bench for the Clippers.
Donovan Mitchell scored 35 points, Bojan Bogdanovic added 23 points, and reserve Jordan Clarkson contributed 19. Mike Conley scored 16 points for Utah, who lost for just the second time in 22 contests.
In other games yesterday, Philadelphia's Joel Embiid and Denver's Jamal Murray each scored a career high 50 points, with Murray becoming the first ever to reach the mark without attempting a free throw and Embiid also grabbing a whopping 17 rebounds.
All-Star Embiid led the 76ers to a 112-105 victory over the Chicago Bulls. He added 17 rebounds, five assists, four blocks and two steals in a dynamic game in Philadelphia.
Embiid was 17 of 26 from the field and 15 of 17 from the free-throw line as he eclipsed the 49 points he scored against the Atlanta Hawks one year ago.
“My teammates found me. I am pretty happy about what we did,” Embiid said. “I have got to get the job done. That's my job, that's why they pay me.”
Tobias Harris contributed 22 points, 12 rebounds in the win. Danny Green scored 13 points and reserve Dwight Howard had 10 rebounds.
It was Philadelphia's second consecutive win without Ben Simmons, who skipped the game with a stomach illness.
Zach LaVine led the Bulls with 30 points, Wendell Carter added 15 and Thad Young scored 12 as Chicago had its two game win streak halted.
Canada's Murray scored a regular season career-high 50 as the Nuggets crushed the Cleveland Cavaliers 120-103 in Cleveland.
Murray, who scored 50 points in two playoff games last season, surpassed his previous high of 48 points in Denver's 115-107 win over the Boston Celtics in November 2018.
“Once I saw a few go down it just took off from there,” Murray said.
Murray, whose mother is from Syria and father was born in Jamaica, made 21 of 25 shots from the floor and drained eight threes for the Nuggets, who led 69-50 at halftime.
Oddly enough, he did not have a free throw, making it the highest scoring game in NBA history without a free throw attempt.
“It's kind of cool to make history. It's a cool stat,” Murray said.
Michael Porter scored 22 points in the first half, and Nikola Jokic earned 16 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists for the Nuggets. Jokic turned 26 yesterday.
American Collin Sexton scored 23 points, and Jarrett Allen tallied 20 points and 10 rebounds for the Cavaliers, who extended their losing streak to nine games.
Nikola Vucevic also recorded his third career triple-double with 30 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists to lift the Orlando Magic to a 124-120 win over the Golden State Warriors in Florida.
The league tweaked its schedule yesterday. The Detroit Pistons will now visit the New York Knicks on March 4.
The game had been planned for the season's second half, after next month's all-star break. Instead, it will be played on the final day before the break. ― AFP