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Kawhi Leonard and Clippers in almost exact same place Raptors were last season

Dan Woike, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Basketball

LOS ANGELES -- Kawhi Leonard was as unruffled as ever Tuesday night, a New Balance track suit resting easily on his body a few hours after he decimated the Cleveland Cavaliers with an all-time example of efficiency and proficiency -- 43 points in under 29 minutes on only 22 shots and 10 free-throw attempts.

He almost always sounds the same, the same levelness to his voice whether he's fighting the flu or whether his T-shirt is soaked with champagne after winning a championship.

When Leonard discussed where the Los Angeles Clippers are at the midway point of the regular season, it shouldn't be too surprising that he preached calm.

"Don't be in a rush to win these games," Leonard said. "Enjoy every moment of this. Enjoy the process. Use it as a learning tool when we get down in the trenches."

During his postgame news conference Tuesday, that was a repetitive theme. Enjoy this process, this journey. Balance the present with the future.

"We've got a long way to go. We're going to get there," Leonard said. "... We just can't be in a rush. Be patient. It's hard to win a championship. The pressure isn't even on us now. We just have to enjoy the process."

 

The Clippers don't look like they are enjoying too much recently, considering the team has been playing .500 basketball for the last month. There's a sense that the team is underachieving, especially when held to the standards the Los Angeles Lakers are setting down the hall in Staples Center.

Don't confuse Leonard's monotone for ignorance. He knows exactly where the Clippers are at right now. After all, the Toronto Raptors were in almost the exact same place one year ago.

Statistically, the numbers are a near match.

Through 41 games last season, Toronto was 29-12 with the sixth-best point differential in the NBA. The Raptors owned the NBA's No. 6 offense (112.0 points per 100 possessions) and the No. 10 defense (107.4). Their net rating? Sixth in the league.

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