LA Clippers star Kawhi Leonard copped a brutal blow to the face amid his side’s Christmas Day win over Denver.
Leonard starred with 21 points in the 121-108 victory, but felt the full force of some friendly fire from teammate Serge Ibaka midway through the final term.
Ibaka inadvertently elbowed Leonard in the jaw in a rebounding battle, sending the two-time NBA Finals MVP to the floor as blood spilled onto the court. He failed to return to the court.
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Leonard required eight stitches to treat a laceration to his mouth.
Paul George led the way for the Clippers with 23 points, while Nikola Jokic paced Denver with 24 and 10 assists.
Earlier, Anthony Davis scored 28 points and LeBron James posted 22 while becoming the second-leading Christmas scorer in NBA history during the Los Angeles Lakers’ 138-115 victory over the Dallas Mavericks.
Montrezl Harrell scored 17 of his 22 points in the second half, and Dennis Schroder had 18 points and six assists in a second strong game for both new additions to the NBA champions.
Los Angeles outrebounded Dallas 53-27 and closed out their first win of the season with a dominant fourth quarter.
Luka Doncic had 27 points and seven assists in his first starring role in the NBA’s showcase Christmas evening game for Dallas. Josh Richardson and Trey Burke had 17 points apiece as the Mavs started 0-2 with a late fade at Staples Centre.
James moved into second place behind Kobe Bryant for the most points scored on Christmas, passing Oscar Robertson in the third quarter. James has 383 points in 15 games on Christmas, while Bryant had 395 in 16 holiday appearances.
Earlier, the Miami Heat overcame an injury to star Jimmy Butler and an inspired performance from Zion Williamson to defeat the visiting New Orleans Pelicans 111-98.
Williamson, making his Christmas Day debut, produced his second double-double in two games this season with 32 points and 14 rebounds, both game highs, as Brandon Ingram added 28 points.
Miami were led by Duncan Robinson, who had 23 points and made seven three- pointers – tying the Christmas single-game mark set by Brandon Ingram last year.
Bam Adebayo had 17 points while Goran Dragic added 18 points and a game-high nine assists off the bench.
Butler, who had stiffness in his right ankle, had six rebounds, five assists and four points in 16 minutes. The Heat made it to the NBA Finals last season but were just 6-9 without Butler.
Milwaukee Bucks also recorded their first win of the season as they comprehensively beat Golden State Warriors 138-99.
Milwaukee narrowly lost to the Boston Celtics in their season-opener but responded with an impressive display in their home opener.
Khris Middleton led the way with 31 points, while back-to-back league MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 15 points and claimed 13 rebounds.
Steph Curry had 19 points for Golden State, which moved him up to second in the franchise’s all-time scoring list.
In Boston, Kyrie Irving scored 37 points while Kevin Durant added 29 points as the visiting Brooklyn Nets enjoyed a successful return to the NBA’s Christmas Day schedule with a 123-95 win over the Celtics.
In his first regular-season game in Boston since joining the Nets, Irving made 13 of 21 shots, hit seven three-pointers and handed out eight assists. Irving scored 17 by halftime, but the Nets trailed by three before outscoring Boston 72-41 in the second half in their first Christmas Day game since facing Chicago in 2013.
Durant made nine of 16 shots, hit three three-pointers and came to life with an array of moves in the third quarter when he scored 16 points and made six of seven shots.
Jaylen Brown scored 27 points for the Celtics (1-1) while Jayson Tatum added 20 and eight rebounds.