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Kawhi Leonard nets 6 factors in 25 minutes of Clippers return

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LOS ANGELES — Saying that the restoration from a torn ACL could be a “two-year course of,” Kawhi Leonard returned to the court docket and began his first sport of the season for the LA Clippers on Thursday.

Leonard performed 24 minutes, scoring six factors, grabbing 5 rebounds and dishing 4 assists to assist the Clippers pull out an unsightly 96-91 win over the Detroit Pistons at Crypto.com Area.

Afterward, Leonard wouldn’t go into element about what saved him out of 12 straight video games after he started the season taking part in in two of the primary three video games off the bench for the Clippers.

“Simply rehabbing, preparing,” Leonard stated of what he was going by since experiencing stiffness in his surgically repaired proper knee on Oct. 25. “I am not going to clarify it as a result of I am not a health care provider, and no one in right here is one. So simply getting again, able to get on the ground.”

Taking part in together with his minutes monitored, Leonard began the primary 5 minutes, 47 seconds of the primary quarter. He logged one other 5:46 within the second quarter and 5:56 within the third. Within the fourth quarter, Leonard performed seven minutes however had to take a look at with 2:43 remaining.

The Clippers are thrilled to have Leonard again however acknowledge it’s like beginning over once more as everybody adapts to the franchise participant again within the combine and ramping his minutes again up.

Leonard reiterated that his return from a torn proper ACL suffered in Sport 4 of the second spherical towards Utah on June 14, 2021, shall be a protracted course of.

“Like I stated earlier than, in the beginning of the season, it may be a protracted journey,” Leonard stated. “ACL restoration is not only one 12 months. Everyone thinks that, however it’s a two-year course of, so I do know that and I’ll hold going and going by the method.”

Happily for the Clippers, they have been up 88-81 when Leonard needed to exit for the remainder of the sport after trailing the Pistons by as a lot as 12.

Leonard shot solely 2-for-8 general from the sphere and noticed his streak of scoring in double figures snapped at 177 straight regular-season video games, the third-longest lively streak within the NBA behind LeBron James (1,106) and Luka Doncic (180), in response to ESPN Stats & Info analysis. The final time Leonard failed to attain in double figures was Dec. 18, 2017, towards the Clippers.

However Leonard nonetheless made a big affect — he was a plus-26 on the ground.

“I simply attempt to remind him that he is Kawhi Leonard,” stated level guard Reggie Jackson, who had 23 factors. “That he is particular. He is among the best to ever play his sport, and we received the utmost confidence in him it doesn’t matter what the end result was. We had utmost confidence in him it doesn’t matter what his stat line stated on the time. I do not care if he made his photographs. I do not care if he turned it over. He’s who he’s for a cause, and we’re gonna trip with him within the fourth.”

Leonard was beforehand listed as out for the sport, however his standing was upgraded to questionable at Thursday morning’s shootaround and he was declared good to play earlier than tipoff.

After taking part in in two of the primary three video games of the season, coming off the bench in each, Leonard skilled stiffness in his surgically repaired proper knee at a morning shootaround earlier than a sport at Oklahoma Metropolis on Oct. 25.

Coach Tyronn Lue stated he needed to start out Leonard as a result of he didn’t like the method of bringing Leonard off the bench halfway by the second quarter for his first stint of motion just like the Clippers did in his first two video games. The design of that was to permit Leonard to complete the fourth quarter for a protracted stretch and never have him sit too lengthy in between taking part in time.

“After I performed these first two video games, it was lifeless already,” Leonard stated of his desire to start out or come off the bench. “T-Lue needed me to start out the video games and get us getting into a circulation. So, earlier than I sat out [12 straight games] I knew I used to be gonna be beginning.”

Now the Clippers wait to see how Leonard’s knee responds to his first sport motion in virtually a month.

“Like I stated, it is a two-year course of,” Leonard stated of whether or not he’s previous what held him out for the earlier 12 video games. “Everyone thinks it is a one-year course of, however we do not know. We’ll see what occurs as soon as we hold transferring ahead.”

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