(*25*) Leonard nets 6 points in 25 minutes of Clippers return

LOS ANGELES — Saying that the restoration from a torn ACL could be a “two-year course of,” (*25*) Leonard returned to the court docket and began his first recreation of the season for the LA Clippers on Thursday.

Leonard performed 24 minutes, scoring six points, grabbing 5 rebounds and dishing 4 assists to assist the Clippers pull out an unpleasant 96-91 win over the Detroit Pistons at Crypto.com Arena.

Afterwards, Leonard wouldn’t go into element about what stored him out of 12 straight video games after he began the season enjoying in two of the primary three video games off the bench for the Clippers.

“Just rehabbing, preparing,” Leonard mentioned of what he was going by means of since experiencing stiffness in his surgically repaired proper knee on Oct. 25. “I’m not going to clarify it as a result of I’m not a physician, and no person in right here is one. So simply getting again, able to get on the ground.”

Playing together with his minutes monitored, Leonard began the primary 5 minutes, 47 seconds of the primary quarter. He logged one other 5:46 in the second quarter and 5:56 in the third. In the fourth quarter, Leonard performed seven minutes however had to take a look at with 2:43 remaining.

The Clippers are thrilled to have Leonard again however acknowledge it’s like beginning over once more as everybody adapts to the franchise participant again in the combination and ramping his minutes again up.

Leonard reiterated that his return from a torn proper ACL suffered in Game 4 of the second spherical in opposition to Utah on June 14, 2021, can be an extended course of.

“Like I mentioned earlier than, firstly of the season, it is going to be an extended journey,” Leonard mentioned. “ACL restoration is not only one yr. Everybody thinks that, but it surely’s a two-year course of, so I do know that and I’m going to maintain going and going by means of the method.”

Fortunately for the Clippers, they had been up 88-81 when Leonard needed to exit for the remaining of the sport after trailing the Pistons by as a lot as 12.

Leonard shot solely 2-for-8 general from the sphere and noticed his streak of scoring in double figures snapped at 177 straight regular-season video games, the third-longest energetic streak in the NBA behind LeBron James (1,106) and Luka Doncic (180) ), in accordance with ESPN Stats & Information analysis. The final time Leonard failed to attain in double figures was Dec. 18, 2017, in opposition to the Clippers.

But Leonard nonetheless made a big influence — he was a plus-26 on the ground.

“I simply attempt to remind him that he is (*25*) Leonard,” mentioned level guard Reggie Jackson, who had 23 points. “That he is particular. He’s one of one of the best to ever play his recreation, and we received the utmost confidence in him it doesn’t matter what the consequence was. We had utmost confidence in him it doesn’t matter what his stat line mentioned on the time. I don ‘t care if he made his pictures. I do not care if he turned it over. He is who he’s for a cause, and we’re gonna trip with him in the fourth.”

Leonard was beforehand listed as out for the sport, however his standing was upgraded to questionable at Thursday morning’s shootaround and he was declared good to play earlier than tipoff.

After enjoying in two of the primary three video games of the season, coming off the bench in each, Leonard skilled stiffness in his surgically repaired proper knee at a morning shootaround earlier than a recreation at Oklahoma City on Oct. 25

Coach Tyronn Lue mentioned he needed to begin Leonard as a result of he didn’t like the method of bringing Leonard off the bench halfway by means of the second quarter for his first stint of motion just like the Clippers did in his first two video games. The design of that was to permit Leonard to complete the fourth quarter for an extended stretch and never have him sit too lengthy in between enjoying time.

“After I performed these first two video games, it was useless already,” Leonard mentioned of his desire to begin or come off the bench. “T-Lue needed me to begin the video games and get us going in a circulate. So, earlier than I sat out [12 straight games] I knew I used to be gonna be beginning.”

Now the Clippers wait to see how (*6*) knee responds to his first recreation motion in nearly a month.

“Like I mentioned, it is a two-year course of,” Leonard mentioned of whether or not he’s previous what held him out for the earlier 12 video games. “Everybody thinks it is a one-year course of, however we do not know. We’ll see what occurs as soon as we preserve shifting ahead.”

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