LOS ANGELES — After scoring 18 factors within the fourth quarter for the second time this season, Kawhi Leonard stated he would proceed to observe his load administration to take care of his well being.
One night time after he was held out of a loss to the Milwaukee Bucks as a consequence of load administration of a knee problem, Leonard overcame a sluggish begin and helped the LA Clippers erase an eight-point, fourth-quarter deficit, totaling 27 factors and 13 rebounds in a 107-101 victory over the Portland Path Blazers on Thursday night time at Staples Heart.
After the win, Leonard discovered himself answering questions on load administration and his knee. The NBA had fined the Clippers $50,000 earlier than the sport for statements made by the staff and coach Doc Rivers that “had been inconsistent” with Leonard’s well being. In that assertion, the NBA additionally detailed Leonard’s damage by explaining that the staff was compliant in load administration by “fairly” figuring out that “Leonard is affected by an ongoing damage to the patella tendon in his left knee and has been positioned by the staff right now on an damage protocol for back-to-back video games.”
“I imply it was stunning, however it would not matter to me,” Leonard stated when requested what he thought in regards to the NBA revealing his knee damage as a patella tendon problem in his left knee. “I am not a man that reads the media anyway. We will handle it one of the simplest ways we are able to to maintain me wholesome and that is crucial factor, me being wholesome transferring ahead.”
After the NBA stated the Clippers had been compliant with league guidelines in holding Leonard out of Wednesday’s nationally televised sport in opposition to Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks, Rivers stated earlier than that sport that Leonard “feels nice,” that there is no such thing as a cause to be involved and that the staff should be sure Leonard stays feeling nice.
That is the second time the Clippers have been fined this 12 months for feedback involving Leonard. In Could, Rivers stated on ESPN that Leonard “is essentially the most like Jordan that we have seen” when likening the All-Star bodily to NBA nice Michael Jordan. Leonard on the time was with the Toronto Raptors earlier than changing into a free agent, and the NBA fined the Clippers $50,000 for tampering.
“For me, I am on his aspect, you already know what I imply?” Leonard stated when requested in regards to the league fining the Clippers twice over Rivers’ remarks about him. “I am a Clipper, he is my coach. That is simply disappointing. It looks like they need gamers to play if they don’t seem to be prepared.
“It’s what it’s. Like I stated, I do not learn into it. I acquired to do what makes me wholesome and goes to assist the staff achieve success and that is me having the ability to play basketball video games for us.”
Twice this season, Leonard has sat out the primary sport of a back-to-back set, the earlier time coming in a Clippers loss at Utah in what was additionally a nationally televised sport on Oct. 30. The choice, although, clearly seemed as if it paid off Thursday night time.
Regardless that Leonard missed 10 of 13 photographs and had solely 9 factors after the primary three quarters, he continued to shine within the fourth quarter. Leonard leads the league in fourth-quarter scoring early within the season, averaging 13.5 factors within the quarter.
Not solely did he rating 15 or extra fourth-quarter factors for the third straight sport, he additionally outdueled Portland’s formidable backcourt tandem of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum on this nationally televised sport. The Clippers’ protection held the duo scoreless within the fourth quarter and to a mixed 0-for-Eight capturing in that span.
In the meantime, Leonard made 6 of 10 photographs and all six of his free throw makes an attempt whereas grabbing six of his rebounds within the quarter.
“Effectively, he seemed well-rested,” Portland head coach Terry Stotts stated of Leonard, who additionally scored 18 factors within the fourth quarter of a win over Utah on Nov. 3. “He was capable of take it to a different gear within the fourth quarter.”
Earlier than coaching camp, Leonard, 28, stated he felt a lot better than he did on the similar time a 12 months earlier, and that his load administration could be completely different than how Toronto dealt with it when he performed in a complete of 60 video games in the course of the common season. Leonard then performed in 24 postseason video games, averaging 30.5 factors and 9.1 rebounds to guide Toronto to its first championship whereas incomes Finals MVP honors.
Rivers echoed how good Leonard has felt earlier than Wednesday’s sport however would not go into any additional element on Thursday after studying of the advantageous. Rivers has needed to straddle the road between Leonard’s need for privateness concerning his well being and the league’s stance on transparency about accidents and cargo administration. Requested if there’s a center floor between these two competing mandates, the veteran coach stated, “I am scared to reply. That is my reply. I simply will not reply.”
Leonard stated he would proceed to observe the lead of staff medical doctors and his coaching employees relating to load administration and sitting out a sport throughout back-to-back units.
“It simply helps from simply me pushing on one thing that is not prepared,” Leonard stated of the long-term advantages of not taking part in in two entrance ends of back-to-back units thus far. “Like I stated, we’re going to preserve managing it transferring ahead. I am not a health care provider and that is for what the medical doctors and my coaching employees is for, letting me know and simply telling how I really feel and simply acquired to maintain transferring it ahead.”