Clippers Notes: Leonard, Wall, George, Patience

Kawhi Leonard made his long-awaited return in the Clippers‘ season-opening victory over the Lakers, recording 14 points, seven rebounds, two assists and a steal in 21 minutes of action as a reserve. After the game, the star forward explained why he liked the idea of coming off the bench, writes Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.

One scenario with me starting, I would have been sitting like 35 minutes real time,” Leonard said. “That’s way too long. So I just thought this was the best situation. But we’ll see how it goes moving forward.”

I did this before,” Leonard added. “This is how I started my career. That’s how I approached it mentally. Act like I was in foul trouble, and once I check in in the second quarter, it’s time to play basketball.”

Leonard said he plans to gradually ramp up his minutes to strengthen his surgically-repaired ACL, and will likely sit out one game of back-to-backs. According Youngmisuk, Leonard also said he’ll “probably” return to the starting lineup once he feels comfortable playing around 35 minutes per night again — he averaged 34.1 MPG in 2020/21.

Here’s more on the Clippers:

  • Leonard and John Wall will sit out Saturday’s contest at Sacramento due to “return from injury rehabilitation (rest),” tweets Youngmisuk. The news was expected, as it’s the first of a back-to-back. The Clippers face the Suns in their home opener on Sunday.
  • The Clippers recognize that the 82-game regular season is a marathon, not a sprint, and don’t expect to be playing their best early on with players in and out of the lineup, according to Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times. “It’s not going to be pretty, it’s not going to be easy, we just got to endure the blows in the beginning, be ready for it and just our whole mental preparation should just be in it for the long haul,” Paul George said.
  • Speaking of George, he says he’s become a more vocal leader with the goal of bringing the team a championship, per Janis Carr of The Orange County Register. “It’s a certain level and expectation that you want out of a group when you have a legitimate chance to win it,” said George, a seven-time All-Star. “I just want to make sure we are mindful of that, every practice day, every game day, like what is at stake here. That is why I have been vocal.”
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