Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard out for G4 with knee inflammation

DALLAS — LA Clippers star Kawhi Leonard missed Game 4 against the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday because of bothersome inflammation in his surgically repaired right knee.

Leonard, who lost 25 minutes but didn’t look like his normal self in Friday’s Game 3 loss, won’t return to action until he can show he can move like he does. It’s necessary,” Clippers president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank said. said Sunday.

“It was very obvious that it wasn’t Kawhi Leonard,” Frank said of Leonard’s moves.

With two days until Game 5 on Wednesday and then just one day off before Games 6 and 7, Leonard’s return in this series is unknown. Dallas leads the best-of-seven series 2-1 heading into Sunday’s game.

“He’s extremely disappointed and frustrated,” Frank said nearly two hours before the game. “It was evident in the third game that his mobility was severely limited. Organizationally, we made the decision to exclude him.

“The obvious question is, ‘When will he come back?’ I can’t give you a timetable. I wish I had a crystal ball. Basically, until he can show that he can make all the moves he needs, that’s when he’ll come back.”

The Clippers, who won the first game without Leonard, started Amir Coffey in place of Leonard.

This is Leonard’s third straight series in which he has dealt with injuries. This past playoffs, Leonard played in the first two games of the first round against Phoenix before a torn meniscus in his right knee ended his season.

In 2021, Leonard tore his right ACL in Game 4 against Utah in the second round. This injury caused him to miss the entire 2021-22 season.

Frank said Leonard underwent imaging tests and his ACL, meniscus and ligaments were intact. The Clippers were pleased with what they saw of Leonard’s moves in Game 2, when he returned after missing three weeks of action with inflammation. He played 35 minutes and scored 15 points.

But the next night, Leonard had swelling in his knee, Frank said. The Clippers tried to play Leonard differently in Game 3, limiting his minutes.

“When you watch him play in the third game, every move was very, very restricted,” Frank said. “We’ve seen him and he’s disappointed and upset that he’s not playing today. Until he can make the moves he needs on a basketball court, we’re going to hold him back.

“All I know is he’s going to need time. When can he come back? When he can consistently show that he can make every move he can make. Like s ‘He couldn’t replicate what he did in Game 2 from just a movement standpoint, so he’s not ready to come back. That his body is telling us something and we need to. listen.

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