Kawhi Leonard is ruled out with knee issue as Clippers face Mavs in Game 4


DALLAS (AP) — Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard has been ruled out of Sunday’s Game 4 of a first-round series against the Dallas Mavericks, with no timetable for his return from right knee inflammation.

Leonard played in the second and third games of the series after missing the final eight games of the regular season and the series opener.

The six-time All-Star never looked comfortable in the Clippers’ 101-90 loss in Game 3, finishing with nine points on just seven shots, his fewest in a playoff game in 10 years. Leonard played 25 minutes as Dallas took a 2-1 series lead.

“When you watch him play, it was very obvious that is not Kawhi Leonard,” team president Lawrence Frank said before the game, calling the injury “tricky.”

He added the Clippers don’t know when the 32-year-old’s surgically repaired knee might be ready for a game.

The Clippers won the series opener without Leonard, with James Harden scoring 28 points and going 6 of 11 from 3-point range.

Paul George scored 22 points in each of the first two games before limited to seven in Game 3. It was just his second playoff game in single digits since joining the Clippers in 2018-19.

“We’ve played without Kawhi before,” coach Tyronn Lue said. “We can’t hang our heads. We understand what it takes, what we have to do, how we need to play, the blueprint. And we prepared for both situations. Just thank Kawhi for trying to get out there and trying to do what he can.”

Leonard played 68 regular-season games, the most for the two-time NBA champion since the 2016-17 season in San Antonio. The knee flared up before LA’s first April game.

“It’s definitely devastating for Kawhi, all the work he’s put in this year and the amount of games he’s played and worked hard to get to this point, to the place he wants to be in the playoffs,” Lue said. “And then to be hurt and not be able to be 100% and play the way he’s capable of playing. I feel bad for him.”

Leonard, who missed all of 2021-22 with a knee injury, averaged 23.7 points, 6.1 rebounds and 3.6 assists this season and is considered one of the team’s best defenders. He has career playoff averages of 21.3 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.9 assists.

“It’s frustrating for the players, for the organization, for the fans,” Lue said. “We understand that. It is what it is. Injuries are part of sports. There’s a lot of great players, not just Kawhi, that’s out right now during the playoffs as well. Every team is going through it.”

Milwaukee was without All-Stars Giannis Antetokounmpo (calf strain) and Damian Lillard (Achilles tendon injury) while facing a 2-1 series deficit Sunday against Indiana.


AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA

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