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Kawhi Leonard, Patrick Beverley out vs. Pelicans as Paul George makes Clippers debut

Kawhi Leonard, Patrick Beverley, Paul George, Clippers

The L.A. Clippers fell short against the Houston Rockets, and they’ll now be shorthanded when they take on the New Orleans Pelicans Thursday night. With it being the second night of a back-to-back set, the team announced they’ll be without Kawhi Leonard, due to load management, as well as Patrick Beverley, who is dealing with a sore left calf. The team will, however, be getting superstar Paul George back on the court for the first time this season.

Leonard will miss his third game of the season, all either the front or back end of a back-to-back set. He missed ESPN games against the Utah Jazz and Milwaukee Bucks, and he’ll miss the non-nationally televised game against the Pelicans. Through nine games, Leonard is averaging 26.8 points, 8.9 rebounds, 6.0 assists, and 2.1 steals per game, but is shooting the worst he’s shot in his nine year career at just 44 percent from the field and 28.6 percent from beyond the arc.

Beverley had been dealing with a sore calf over the last couple of weeks. He missed a game in the preseason as a precaution with what was listed as a sore calf, and it flared up again in the first week of the season. With the game being the second half of a back-to-back, the Clippers are probably playing it safe with Beverley by sitting him out. In 11 games this season, Beverley has averaged 7.0 points, 6.4 rebounds, 2.9 assists, and 1.5 steals on just 35.3 percent shooting from the field.

For the first time all year, George will be on the court with his Clippers teammates. George underwent a surgery on each of his shoulders in May and has been rehabbing ever since. A general timeline was never placed on George as he worked his way back, but both the Clippers and Thunder had been targeting the ten game mark of the season as the likely target range for the six-time All-Star’s return.

George finished third in MVP voting as well as third in Defensive Player of the Year voting last season with the Oklahoma City Thunder. He’s coming off a year where he averaged 28 points, 8.2 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 2.2 steals, and 3.8 three-pointers per game, all of which are career-highs.

The Clippers will likely limit George’s minutes somewhere around 20-25 minutes once he returns. With no back-to-backs over the next two weeks, they’ll have the chance to slowly bring him back up to speed alongside Kawhi Leonard.

Clippers and Pelicans tip off at 8PM EST on Fox Sports Prime Ticket.