April 24, 2024

Clippers All-Star forward Kawhi Leonard left Crypto.com Arena because of back spasms, the team announced at halftime of their 118-100 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday night.

Leonard was uncomfortable running and sitting down, so he left the building, unable to play because of the pain after playing in all 12 minutes of the first quarter in a game the Clippers once led by 22 points.

Thoracic spasm, as the team called it, is defined as inflammation and can be caused by several things, including a sudden sprain or strain.

Leonard had sat out Sunday’s game because of left groin soreness, only the sixth game he had sat out this season. He leads the Clippers in scoring (24.0 points) and is averaging 6.2 rebounds and 3.8 assists.

Even with Leonard gone, the Clippers built a 57-35 lead in the second quarter. But a 20-2 run late in the second quarter got the Timberwolves back into it, putting the Clippers on their heels in a tough, tense game.

They scored only 15 points in the third quarter and trailed 84-78 entering the fourth.

The Clippers never recovered, going down by 20 points in the final quarter, forcing coach Ty Lue to call a timeout with 4:08 left so he could remove the rest of his starters and rotation players.

They never got a handle on Anthony Edwards, who had 37 points, eight rebounds and four assists. If it wasn’t Edwards doing damage, it was Mike Conley (23 points) and Nickeil Alexander-Walker (28 points).

Paul George led the Clippers with 22 points.

The Clippers (41-23) lost the season series 3-1 to the Timberwolves (45-21), with Minnesota taking a three-game lead over L.A. in the Western Conference standings.

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