Tagged in: Kawhi Leonard

LA Clippers hold out Kawhi Leonard with back tightness

After feeling lower back tightness that developed during pregame warm-ups, LA Clippers star Kawhi Leonard was ruled out for Thursday night’s matchup versus the Sacramento Kings after halftime.

Clippers coach Doc Rivers said he found out Leonard would not start the game “literally five seconds” before tip. Leonard then spent half the game, a 124-103 Clippers loss, trying to get his back to loosen up. “His back just locked up,” Rivers said.

“I think he was shooting before the game and his back locked up. He was in stretching and trying to do everything he could to get on the floor, and he just couldn’t.”

Rivers said he did not know the severity of Leonard’s back injury. The Clippers play again Saturday afternoon at home versus the Minnesota Timberwolves. Later that night, Leonard will have his jersey retired by San Diego State during the Aztecs’ game against Utah State.

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Without Leonard, the Clippers were routed by Sacramento. 

Paul George returned from a nine-game absence due to a strained left hamstring and missed 8 of 10 shots, finishing with eight points, four rebounds and four assists in 19 minutes.

Rivers said George and Patrick Beverley, who returned after missing three games with a sore groin, were on a minutes restriction and that it was hard for George to get a rhythm.

George, who has played in six All-Star games, was not named among the Western Conference reserves this year and will not play with Leonard in the Feb. 16 All-Star Game at Chicago.

“The fact of the matter is, I didn’t deserve to be an All-Star,” said George, who has played only 27 games so far this season while dealing with various injuries and his recovery from offseason shoulder surgeries.

“I didn’t play enough games and I wasn’t out there enough. So, honestly, it’s nice to have those three extra days. I’ll take it with a smile on my face, and I’ll root Kawhi on from whatever beach we decide to go to.”

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Kawhi Leonard misses third straight game for Clippers

Kawhi Leonard is missing his third straight match for the Los Angeles Clippers, again delaying his on-court pairing with new teammate Paul George.

George was in the lineup Monday night versus his former team, Oklahoma City, which traded him to the Clippers in the off-season.

Leonard bruised his left knee in a loss at Houston last Wednesday and didn’t play at New Orleans or versus Atlanta last week. Los Angeles coach Doc Rivers says it was “very possible” Leonard was going to play Monday. Rivers has displayed little concern that Leonard will be out long.

“I just know it’s going to happen,” he said of Leonard and George playing together for the first time. Leonard has missed five of the Clippers’ 14 games. When he’s been in the lineup, he’s averaging 26.8 points.

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George has helped mitigate Leonard’s absence, scoring 70 points in 44 minutes in his first two games back. He recorded 18 points on Monday, including a 3-pointer with 25.9 seconds left to put the Clippers up for good.

Per The Athletic’s Shams Charania, Leonard is day-to-day after further evaluation on the knee revealed nothing serious.

This all comes shortly after the debate over Leonard’s load management briefly consumed the NBA when the star sat out a nationally televised matchup versus Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks. Just a few days later, Leonard suffered his injury versus the Rockets.

Leonard was initially listed as questionable heading into the game, but the Clippers might be treating his injury as conservatively as possible. His next opportunity to play will come Wednesday, for a marquee matchup versus the Boston Celtics. At the end Los Angeles Clippers fans are going to have to wait a few more days to finally see Kawhi Leonard and Paul George playing together.

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Clippers beat Spurs as Leonard scored 38 against former team

Gregg Popovich and Kawhi Leonard traded some laughs and pleasantries after Leonard’s new team, the Los Angeles Clippers, overpowered his former coach and the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday night.

If Leonard has any more nights like that against his former club, the normally irascible Popovich won’t be smiling again.

Leonard scored 38 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in the Clippers’ 103-97 win, which handed the Spurs their first loss. It is Leonard’s first points-rebounds, double-double this season. It is also his first double-double in three meetings versus San Antonio, where he played seven seasons (2011-18) before being traded to Toronto in July of 2018.

The 38 points ties for the fifth-most Leonard has scored in a regular-season game in his eight-year career. He took a career high 32 shots.

”It was something I look forward to,” Leonard said about facing the Spurs. ”Just to be able to play against a great coach and my old teammates is always fun.” Leonard is 2-1 versus his former team. While his departure from San Antonio wasn’t amicable, Leonard said his relationship with Popovich is good, for the most part.

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Popovich didn’t have much to say about Leonard postgame other than: ”I thought he was great.” When someone tried to get Popovich to expound, he replied: ”Doc’s coaching him, I’m not. I just said he had a great game, there’s nothing else to say.”

Another thing going well is Leonard’s start with the Clippers, the team he signed with as a free agent during the offseason.

He has scored 30 or more in three of his first five games and is the first Clipper since Blake Griffin in 2015 to have at least 38 points and 12 rebounds in a game.

”Tonight was a great night for him to do his thing. We just followed his lead,” Clippers guard Lou Williams said. Leonard – who sat out Wednesday’s game at Utah due to load management – took control of the game in the second half, when he had 25 points on 10 of 16 shooting from the field, including a pair of 3-pointers.

Los Angeles went on a 9-1 run to take a 64-55 lead with 6:55 remaining in the third quarter. Leonard scored five of his 10 third-quarter points during the rally, including a dunk after a steal of DeMar DeRozan at midcourt.

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