LOS ANGELES — Kawhi Leonard scored 28 points, Terance Mann added a season-high 23 and the Los Angeles Clippers defeated the Philadelphia 76ers 122-112 on Saturday night in their first game against former coach Doc Rivers.
Rivers led the Clippers for seven seasons and directed them to six playoff appearances. He took the Philadelphia job less than a week after being fired by Los Angeles.
Leonard missed Thursday’s game at San Antonio due to a sore right foot, but didn’t show any ill effects. The star forward had 19 points in the first half, including 12 in the second quarter.
Mann made his first eight shots from the field and was 10 of 12 for the game. He had 11 points during the second quarter, which tied a career high.
Paul George added 24 points for the Clippers, who have won five straight and six of seven.
Los Angeles led by five at halftime, but took control with seven straight points to open the third quarter. They were up 97-84 at the end of the period and led by 19 in the fourth.
Philadelphia got off to a hot start and jumped out to a 21-11 lead with less than five minutes remaining in the first quarter before Los Angeles got on track. The Clippers went on an 18-9 run and trailed by one at the end of the period.
There were seven ties and five lead changes in the second quarter before Los Angeles closed the period on an 8-3 spurt to take a 65-60 lead at halftime.
Dwight Howard was ejected for the second straight game when he picked up two technical fouls with 10:35 remaining in the fourth quarter. The 76ers center was called for two separate technicals in the first quarter of Thursday’s game against the Lakers.
Howard finished with nine points and 11 rebounds. The only good that happened at Staples Center for him over the three days was he picked up his championship ring after playing for the Lakers last season.
The Clippers played a 90-second video tribute to Rivers during the first timeout in the first quarter. Rivers said the first trip back to where he has coached before is always weird, even if fans were allowed in the stands.
“We are having fans now in Philly, but it feels different. It does when you have some fans in the crowd. No doubt about that, but none of that won’t take away,” he said. “You know, I had a lot of good years here. And you know, not having fans (here) won’t take that away.
“I got a chance to say hello to a lot of people and friends I made here, so I’m glad they’re all doing well.”