Home Basketball Kawhi Leonard Comes Off Bench For First Time In Nine Years

Kawhi Leonard Comes Off Bench For First Time In Nine Years

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Kawhi Leonard made his return to the court after a year-and-a-half, but that return took a bit longer than was expected. Leonard came off the bench for the first time since November of 213, when he was still and up-and-coming player with the San Antonio Spurs.

In all, Leonard played three separate stints of six-to-seven minutes and 21:17 total. The LA Clippers star said he made the decision after coming off the bench in conjunction with head coach Ty Lue. The Clippers had Leonard simulate the feel of coming off the bench in scrimmages and analyzed substitution patterns where he wouldn’t sit for too long, while still making an impact at the end of the game.

Make an impact at the end of the game is exactly what Leonard did. He drew a key charge from LeBron James late in the fourth quarter. Leonard then knocked down a jumper with under a minute to play to help the Clippers hold off the rival Lakers.

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

Both Lue and Leonard said if either party didn’t feel this was working, they’d turn back to Leonard starting. For his part, Leonard has his eyes on the long-term.

“You gotta gradually play minutes in order to get the ACL strong,” Leonard said. “Once you start playing 38 minutes first game, it could easily weaken up, but I’m listening to the doctor with that.

“It’s a long season. We wanna get in the playoffs and want me to play in the playoffs.”

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