LOS ANGELES (AP) — Kawhi Leonard won’t play for the Los Angeles Clippers against the Phoenix Suns in Game 3 of their Western Conference playoff series Thursday night.
He has a sprained right knee that he aggravated at the end of Game 1 last Sunday, according to Lawrence Frank, president of basketball operations. Leonard played through it in Game 2, but afterward the injury didn’t improve, which led to him being sidelined.
“He desperately, desperately wants to play,” Frank said before the game. “He’s extremely disappointed.”
Leonard’s absence leaves the Clippers without both of their star players against the Suns’ trio of Kevin Durant, Devin Booker and Chris Paul. Paul George hasn’t played since March 21, when he sprained his right knee in a game. He continues to rehab.
“I feel sorry for Kawhi because he worked so hard to get to this point,” coach Tyronn Lue said. “All the guys got to step up and they understand. We’re locked in and focused and we’re ready to go.”
Leonard was in street clothes and walking without a noticeable limp at the arena.
He is averaging 34.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and six assists through the first two games of the best-of-seven series, which is tied 1-1.
“If we weren’t comfortable with him playing, we wouldn’t have (in Game 2), but like I said, after the game, just things didn’t get better, they got worse,” Frank said. “So we ruled him out for tonight and take it day-by-day.”
Leonard, a two-time NBA Finals MVP, missed all of last season while recovering from surgery for a torn right ACL.
AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/nba and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports