Pacific Notes: Leonard, Plumlee, Huerter, Kerr

Clippers star Kawhi Leonard was back at practice Sunday after missing four games with a bruised left hip, writes Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times. Coach Tyronn Lue said Leonard was able to participate “fully” in the practice session, but didn’t commit to his availability for tonight’s game against Miami.

“We’ll see tomorrow,” Lue said. “Yeah, we’ll see how he comes out of this, but he is practicing today.”

Leonard’s health is always an issue for the Clippers, and it was encouraging that he was able to appear in the team’s first 27 games before hurting his hip. With Leonard returning to practice, Lue installed some new wrinkles to the offense, according to Turner.

“With Kawhi back, today is a good time to add a couple of things here and there,” Lue said. “But we do have to extend our package offensively, especially when we get down to the end of the season going into the playoffs. You have to be able to lean on some different things. You just can’t do the same thing every single night. And, so, if our pick-and-roll game is not going, we got to be able to do something different. If our post-up game is not going, we got to be able to do something different. If our iso game is not going, we got to be able to do something different. And they understand that. So, now we got to start adding and start getting better offensively.”

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Mason Plumlee has been upgraded to questionable on the Clippers‘ injury list for tonight’s game, tweets Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. L.A.’s backup big man has been sidelined since November 6 with an MCL sprain, causing the team to add free agent Daniel Theis to provide depth in the middle.
  • Coach Mike Brown made a change to the Kings‘ starting lineup Sunday in Memphis, replacing Kevin Huerter with Chris Duarte, per Chris Biderman of The Sacramento Bee. Huerter, who exited Friday’s game with an injury to his left hand, came off the bench for the first time since being traded to Sacramento in the summer of 2022. He was part of Brown’s first round of substitutions and scored nine points in 17 minutes.
  • The Warriors are searching for answers after completing the 2023 portion of their schedule with a 10-point loss to Dallas, per Anthony Slater of The Athletic. It marked the team’s eighth defeat at home, which matches its total from all of last season. Coach Steve Kerr refused to blame the absence of Draymond Green, who remains on indefinite suspension, but said the team lacks the “grit” that it needs to be successful. “We’re not competing through the tough parts of the game,” Kerr said. “There’s an intangible, there’s a feeling, there’s a vibe when you fight, where everyone’s energy is right. We don’t have that right now.”
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