Clippers Notes: Powell, Leonard, Current Era

Clippers guard Norman Powell is not backing down from the challenge of replacing injured star’s Kawhi Leonard‘s output in L.A.’s series with the Suns, writes Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times.

Powell started with Leonard out on Thursday, and poured in 42 points in a narrow defeat to Phoenix. Though he couldn’t hope to replicate Leonard’s defensive contributions, he played his role as a scorer admirably. Head coach Tyronn Lue noted that Powell’s work ethic has prepared him for moments like this.

“When you put that kind of work in, every single day, just grinding every single day, you’re going to play well,” Lue said.

There’s more out of Los Angeles:

  • Leonard’s impact on both sides of the hardwood is hard to replace, Greif notes in a separate piece. Leonard scored or assisted on 45% of L.A.’s offense across the series’ first two games, and had guarded Suns All-Star forward Kevin Durant a team-most 53 possessions through those two bouts.
  • Although he has already been ruled out for today’s matinee against Phoenix, Leonard has merely been considered day-to-day for Los Angeles. However, it now sounds like his knee sprain injury could keep him out longer than initially anticipated, per Chris Haynes of NBA TV (Twitter video link). “The Clippers are still ruling him day-to-day with a right knee sprain, and what we know is that this injury is not connected to the ACL tear that he suffered two years ago, but it is the same knee,” Haynes said. “So that is worrisome right there. But there is no timetable as of right now, we don’t know when Kawhi is going to return, they’re still putting… hope out there that he could at some point, but it’s not looking good.”
  • This mid-series Leonard injury represents just the newest impediment to what has been an incredibly disappointing Clippers era, opines Law Murray of The Athletic. Leonard and All-Star Clippers forward Paul George have been beset by injuries at inopportune times for years, and the team has never lived up to the championship expectations it had when the two stars joined forces in the 2019 offseason.
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