Clippers star Kawhi Leonard suffers sprained ACL vs. Jazz
The LA Clippers’ second-round series against the Utah Jazz just got a lot tougher. Clippers star Kawhi Leonard has suffered a sprained right knee, the team announced Wednesday. He will miss Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals.
While he has no timetable to return, sources say Leonard suffered a sprained ACL and is tentatively expected to miss the remainder of this series with the Jazz.
ESPN’s Brian Windhorst and Ramona Shelburne were first to report the news of Leonard’s injury early Wednesday morning.
The injury came with 5:25 left in the fourth quarter of the Clippers’ Game 4 win over the Jazz. Leonard came up hobbling after the team’s transition opportunity was stopped by an intentional hip-check foul by Utah forward Joe Ingles.
Leonard immediately grimaced and hopped on one knee past the Clippers’ bench, taking time to flex his knee out. He remained in the game, drawing a shooting foul on Ingles on the ensuing possession, but would miss both free throws. He remained in the game for a few possessions. At the 4:35 mark of the fourth quarter, with less than a minute of game action after the injury, Ivica Zubac checked in for Leonard and closed the game out for him.
Here’s where Kawhi Leonard suffered the apparent injury, on an intentional foul by Jazz forward Joe Ingles.
He grabbed at his knee a few times and stayed in the game before coming out a minute later. pic.twitter.com/Yii9G7p7Yp
— Tomer Azarly (@TomerAzarly) June 16, 2021
In both his on-court postgame interview with TNT as well as his postgame interview with members of the media an hour later, Leonard claimed he was fine and was even a little irritated by the question.
“I’m good,” Leonard quickly remarked. “Next question.”
Clearly, he was not “good.” Leonard’s MRI results came in after the team arrived to Utah and after the injury report was required to be submitted.
The Clippers haven’t had more than one day off since May 27, but did have three pairs of days off during their first-round series vs. the Mavs.
The team now has to move forward in the postseason without their two-time Finals MVP, at least for the near-future. When Leonard missed nine games over a 10-game stretch in April due to right foot soreness, Terance Mann started for him in six of those games.
In 24 regular-season starts, Mann put up 11.6 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 2.1 assists per game on 45.5 percent shooting from the field.
Head coach Tyronn Lue may elect to go any number of ways with his starting lineup, like possibly inserting Luke Kennard instead of Mann to keep the floor spaced with four shooters around Paul George.
In four games against the Jazz, Kawhi Leonard is averaging 27.3 points, 7.5 rebounds, 4.0 assists, and 1.8 steals in 36.7 minutes per game on 50.6 percent shooting from the field and 33.3 percent shooting from beyond the arc.