LOS ANGELES – Kawhi Leonard hit seven straight shots in one stretch, creating a run for the Clippers that his new teammates quickly joined.
“It’s a great sign of leadership,” coach Doc Rivers said. “He talks with his game.”
Leonard began a new career chapter Tuesday night, scoring 30 points to go with a strong bench effort in a 112-102 victory over LeBron James and the Lakers in the teams’ season opener.
Leonard chose the Clippers because he wanted to come home and his family was on hand.
“All those emotions went through me again,” he said.
Lou Williams added 21 points and Montrezl Harrell had 17 off the bench when the Clippers began their 50th season overall and 36th in Los Angeles as the once unlikely but now favorites to win the franchise’s first NBA championship.
“It’s one of 82 (games),” Rivers said. “Next question.”
Leonard won his second NBA title last season in Toronto.
The Lakers showed off their new 1-2 punch of James and Anthony Davis. Davis scored 25 points, making 9 of 14 free throws, and James had 18.
“For us, we’re both aggressive,” Davis said. “Sometimes we kind of miss each other. I missed him a couple times and he missed me, so just trying to figure it out.”
Danny Green outscored them both with 28 points, including seven 3-pointers, in the highest-scoring debut by a Laker in franchise history.
Leonard got it done without his personal recruit Paul George, sidelined indefinitely while rehabbing from a pair of offseason shoulder surgeries.
“It’s just the first game of the season, so it’s going to take the season and mistakes and success to get us on the same page,” Leonard said.
Wearing a black tuxedo jacket and bow tie, George received a mixed reaction when introduced in the playoff-like atmosphere at Staples Center, where the Clippers were the home team for the first of four meetings in the arena the teams share.
“Their fans were very loud early and I thought our fans took over from that point on,” Rivers said. “It’s great for the city.”
Raptors 130, Pelicans 122 (OT)
In Toronto, Fred VanVleet scored a career-high 34 points, Pascal Siakam fouled out with 34 points and 18 rebounds and defending champion Toronto beat New Orleans.
Kyle Lowry scored 22 points, including a pair of free throws that put Toronto in the lead for good, and Serge Ibaka had 13 as the Raptors won their seventh straight season opener and posted their eighth win in nine meetings with the Pelicans.
Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday tied it at 122 by making a pair of free throws with 2:23 left in overtime. Lowry answered with his foul shots, VanVleet hit a corner 3, and Lowry also connected from long range to cap a decisive 8-0 run.
Brandon Ingram scored 22 points and Josh Hart had 15 points and 10 rebounds for New Orleans, which began the season without No. 1 pick Zion Williamson. JJ Redick scored 16 points, Nicolò Melli had 14 and Holiday added 13.
IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5