LOS ANGELES — The Clippers are looking to get Kawhi Leonard days off where they can this season. Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said Sunday the plan had been to rest him the second half of the final preseason game against Utah, but Leonard asked to play, recognizing the need to build chemistry that the team lacked last playoff run.
“He got up and walked off the floor, so he’s gonna be good,” Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said at the time, but Leonard needed eight stitches to close the cut in his mouth.
That was enough for the Clippers to keep Leonard out on Sunday, Lue confirmed. The official reason is a “mouth laceration.” Luke Kennard will get the start in his place.
Leonard’s defense will be missed against Luka Doncic, and it will put more on the plate of Paul George, who has averaged 28 points a game and been the best Clipper through the first two games of the season.
Without Leonard for the stretch run on Christmas, the Clippers kept defending well and hitting threes, and held off Denver to win 121-108.