The Los Angeles Clippers began the post-All-Star break with a tough back-to-back against the Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs, but were fortunate enough to get Chris Paul back on Friday night. Although, that was not enough, as the Clippers dropped their second straight in as many nights, this one at home, 105-97. Kawhi Leonard had 21 points to lead the Spurs, who had five players with at least 14 points. Pau Gasol added 17 points and 11 rebounds, while LaMarcus Aldridge had 15 points and 11 rebounds in double-double performances. Paul scored 17 points in his return for Los Angeles, who was led by Blake Griffin's 29 points. They also got 23 points from Austin Rivers off the bench, as they held a six-point lead at the half. The Spurs were playing their first game in nine days, but rallied from a late nine-point deficit to record their first win of the season over the Clippers.
Raptors Pull Away for Win Over Celtics
The Toronto Raptors' struggles before the All-Star break dropped them behind the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference standings. Friday night was their first game after the All-Star break, and they played like they had something to prove. DeMar DeRozan scored a career-high 43 points to help the Raptors pull away for a 107-97 win over the Celtics. Toronto outscored Boston by 13 in the fourth, as they overcame an early 17-point deficit at home. DeRozan shot 15 of 28 from the floor, beating out his 42-point performance against the Houston Rockets in March of 2015. The Raptors were without Kyle Lowry, but did debut recently-acquired Serge Ibaka and P.J. Tucker. Ibaka scored 15, while Tucker added nine in their Raptor debut. Isaiah Thomas had 20 points in the loss for Boston, including just four points in the final 12 minutes. The Celtics now hold a three game lead on Toronto for the two-seed, with the Washington Wizards sitting in between them.
Westbrook Records First Post-All-Star Triple-Double
Russell Westbrook started his "second half" of the season the same way he's been playing all year long, by posting triple-doubles. He recorded his 28th of the season on Friday night, leading his Oklahoma City Thunder past the Los Angeles Lakers, 110-93. Westbrook had 17 points, 18 rebounds, and 17 assists in his 65th career triple-double. Taj Gibson and Doug McDermott also made their Thunder debuts, scoring 12 and eight points respectively. Westbrook also found out what it's like to have a true supporting cast, as Ales Abrines and Andre Roberson each set career-highs with 19 points. The Thunder defense chipped in as well, holding the Lakers to just 39.6 percent shooting. D'Angelo Russell had 29 points to lead the Lakers in the loss. Oh, and the most impressive thing about Westbrook's triple-double was that he clinched it in just 19 minutes of playing time.