April 18, 2024

Clippers All-Star forward Kawhi Leonard has a sore right knee and will miss the game Tuesday night against the Sacramento Kings, coach Tyronn Lue told reporters at the team’s shoot-around earlier in the day.

Lue said he was informed about Leonard’s injury when the team landed Monday in Sacramento after the flight from Charlotte. Leonard had played 37 minutes in the Clippers’ win on Sunday in Charlotte and he had 23 points and five rebounds.

“We heard about it after the game,” Lue said. “But yesterday was when we found out.”

Lue said Leoand returned home to Los Angeles to get treatment.

“He went back to L.A. (because there are) better resources as far as treatment and everything like that,” Lue said. “So, he went back yesterday when we landed (in Sacramento).”

When asked if Leonard’s injury was something to be concerned about, Lue paused before answering.

“Um, yes,” Lue said.

Leonard, who is averaging 23.7 points per game on 52.5% shooting from the field and 41.7% on threes, will have missed only his eighth game of the season.

Lue said the hope is that Leonard can return to play Thursday when the Clippers meet the defending NBA champion Denver Nuggets at Crypto.com Arena.

““We’re not sure right now,” Lue said. “But that’s what we are leaning to, that’s what we’re hopeful, that he can be back by Thursday but not sure yet.”

Lue said Norman Powell will start in place of Leonard. Powell, one of the NBA’s top sixth men, is fourth on the team in scoring (14.0).

“We need more scoring, need more offense, especially the way they play the pick-and-roll,” Lue said of the Kings. “Giving Norm a few opportunities to drive, close-outs and hit open shots. So, we’ll see how it looks.”

The Clippers are 3-0 on their four–game trip, getting impressive wins in Philadelphia and Orlando before the win in Charlotte.

The Clippers are the fourth-seeded team in the Western Conference, holding a two-game lead over the Dallas Mavericks.

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