April 18, 2024

Clippers coach Tyronn Lue provided some good news Sunday about star forward Kawhi Leonard, who has missed the last four games because of a left hip bruise.

“Kawhi is practicing today,” Lue said before his team gathered for practice. “Yessir.”

Lue was asked if Leonard would be playing Monday against the Miami Heat at Crypto.com Arena.

“We’ll see,” Lue said. “We’ll see tomorrow. Yeah, we’ll see how he comes out of this, but he is practicing today.”

Lue paused for a moment and then added that Leonard was “fully” practicing.

That was a good sign for the Clippers.

They are 2-2 in Leonard’s absence, but the Clippers had won their last two games.

Leonard had played in the first 27 games for the Clippers, once again showing the basketball world his talents.

He is averaging 24.4 points per game and shooting 56% from the field, 42% from three-point range. He was averaging 34.5 minutes per game, his health really not an issue until the hip injury.

With Leonard out, Lue said trying to install new offensive sets during practices “was not good” because his best player was not able to practice.

Even Lue, who said center Mason Plumlee (left knee sprain) was also practicing Sunday, had to laugh.

“Not good yet, because then Kawhi went down,” Lue said. “But with Kawhi back, today is a good time to add a couple of things here and there. But we do have to extend our package offensively, especially when we get down to the end of the season going into the playoffs.

“You have to be able to lean on some different things. You just can’t do the same thing every single night. And, so, if our pick-and-roll game is not going, we got to be able to do something different. If our post-up game is not going, we got to be able to do something different. If our iso-game is not going, we got to be able to do something different. And they understand that. So, now we got to start adding and start getting better offensively.”

The Clippers are now starting to see growth with this group.

There was a time when they lost six straight games after they acquired James Harden.

Then they rolled off nine consecutive wins in December, leading the Clippers to post an 11-2 record in that month. They are 19-12 overall, fourth in the Western Conference standings before play Sunday.

Those ups and downs of a season have taught Lue to develop more “patience.”

“I think being patient has been the biggest thing, but also just being with a good group of guys has been good for me,” Lue said. “There has been a lot of different situations, a lot of lineup changes, different rotations, different sacrifices. But having this group that’s willing to do that and also putting in the work every single day has been good for us.

“And, so, that’s why you can see us getting better each night. We still have a long ways to go, but just continue to keep getting better.”

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