Kawhi Leonard gave Jamal Murray the middle finger, but not in the way most would imagine. The LA Clippers, and NBA fans, were amazed when Leonard was able to block a Murray shot with nothing more than his middle finger.
Murray was shocked, as well, at seeing his dunk stopped. This happened when the game was left less than two minutes in a six-point contest. For most of Game 3 between the Clippers and the Denver Nuggets, the Clippers did a good job, but nothing could top Leonard’s block.
Huge Murray Block From Leonard
When there was a chance to make a defensive stand, Leonard and the Clippers suffocated the Nuggets to score a 113-107 victory on Monday, and they now have a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven Western Conference semifinals. In general, the Clippers showed a dominant defense when it was needed, and this became more evident when Leonard was able to block Murray’s shot attempt.
Leonard used his whole middle finger to reject the attempt and protect a 109-103 lead with 1:47 left in the game. Clippers guard Paul George said after the game, “That’s an extra long middle finger,” adding, “Like, it kept growing or something. That’s Kawhi, man.”
Through the first seven games of the NBA playoffs, the Clippers got used to trusting Leonard to lead the offense. The stats show that he scored 29 or more points per game in the series. However, Denver’s defense kept Leonard to 13 points in Game 2 and 23 points in Game 3. The Nuggets are proving to be a tough rival; but Leonard had an impact in Game 3 in other aspects like grabbing 14 rebounds and scoring six assists to go in hand with one elite defensive block from Murray’s shot.
Clippers coach Doc Rivera felt delighted by Leonard’s play. He stated, “That play by Kawhi was amazing. I didn’t know it was with one finger. I thought he just blocked it, but it was impressive. I didn’t even know where he came from.” Leonard didn’t achieve this by mere luck; he really is that good a player.
The Clippers Look To Finish Their Nuggets
During Game 3, Denver mainly focused on making things tough for Leonard, who shot 9-for-19 and only 1-for-6 from 3-point range. On the other hand, George was in charge of attacking the opposition. He made 12 of 18 shots and picked up 32 points, that includes connecting on five of seven 3-pointers.
The stats show that it was George’s best contest since he scored 35 points in Game 5 against the Dallas Mavericks in Round 1, which helped him abandon a slump of series of three postseason games. It was a dark moment for him, and he even dealt with anxiety and depression. However, he overcame the issues and got back on track.
George mentions that he intends to release the scoring burden off Leonard’s shoulders. He explains, “I’ve got to help him. Kawhi’s done more than enough down this stretch. Some nights, it’s not going to be his night, and I have to be myself. I have to help him, pull the weight, make plays, make shots. Give him credit, getting us this far, but he can’t go into every game with that pressure that he’s got to be great on both ends.”
The Clippers Find Their Rhythm
For the second time, the Clippers stifled Murray into finishing with just five baskets made and less than 15 points. Murray shot 5-for-17 overall and 2-of-7 from beyond the arc. He scored 14 points and nine assists in Game 1 after scoring 27 points in Denver’s Game 2 victory.
Leonard comments, “I think we need to be consistent throughout the whole 48 minutes, but you got to give Denver credit.” He adds, “[The Nuggets] are a good basketball team. They have been together for a while. They know how to make adjustments on the fly. They got a good coach. It’s playoff basketball. But for us, definitely want to see it throughout.”