Paul George poured in 28 points and Kawhi Leonard added 21 as the visiting Los Angeles Clippers turned it on in the fourth quarter to roll to a 124-99 win over the hapless San Antonio Spurs on Monday night.
The teams will meet again on Wednesday in San Antonio.
The Clippers built a 20-point lead just under 7 1/2 minutes into the third quarter and took a 91-77 advantage into the final period. George scored the first seven points of the fourth quarter to expand Los Angeles’ lead to 21 points and dispel any notion of a San Antonio comeback.
Los Angeles has now won two straight games after losing six in a row, including the first five of the James Harden era. Meanwhile, the Spurs have dropped nine straight contests and have not won since Nov. 2.
Norman Powell and Daniel Theis hit for 19 points apiece off the bench for the Clippers, with Harden scoring 13 and dishing out 10 assists, Russell Westbrook hitting for 10 points and Ivica Zubac grabbing 11 rebounds.
Keldon Johnson led the Spurs with 22 points while Cedi Osman had 17, Zach Collins scored 12 and Tre Jones tallied 11. Rookie phenom Victor Wembanyama had nine points on 4-of-12 shooting for San Antonio, which played without Devin Vassell (adductor) for the third straight game.
The teams traded the lead through the first eight-plus minutes of the first quarter before Los Angeles took charge with a 9-2 run punctuated by a 3-pointer by Leonard with 1:35 to play in the period. The Clippers had a 33-27 advantage after 12 minutes of play.
Los Angeles pushed the margin to 14 points after three free throws by Powell at the 6:28 mark of the second quarter. San Antonio fought back, cutting its deficit to 53-48 on an Osman layup with 3:55 to play. The Clippers led 66-55 at the break.
Five players scored in double figures for Los Angeles before halftime, led by Leonard’s 12 points and 11 from both Powell and Theis. The Spurs stayed within striking distance thanks to Osman’s 12 points off the bench.