Clippers' Kawhi Leonard questionable for Game 4 vs. Mavericks

Kawhi Leonard eased his way onto the American Airlines Center court Saturday afternoon, his sneakers in hand and a thin white device on his swollen right knee that has left the Clippers’ best player listed as questionable for Game 4 on Sunday.

Lawrence Frank, the Clippers’ president of basketball operations, made his way over and sat next to Leonard for a chat. Leonard bent over to tie his shoes, got up and walked over for a short talk with Clippers coach Tyronn Lue.

Leonard then grabbed a basketball and began to take shots, his movements deliberate and measured, but at least he was practicing.

The Clippers trail the Dallas Mavericks 2-1 in the best-of-seven Western Conference first-round playoff series and Leonard said after Game 3 on Friday that he wants to play because he wants to be there for his teammates.

“He’s just still dealing with the inflammation and the swelling,” Lue said. “So, we’re monitoring it. He got treatment last night, got treatment this morning, he’ll get treatment tonight, so we’ll just see. Right now he’s questionable for Game 4.”

Like he has anytime he’s participated in practice, Leonard will not be involved in any contact drills, although the Clippers were not going to have a contact practice.

And if he plays in Game 4, Lue said they’ll keep an eye on Leonard to make sure he’s not hampered by his knee and can still be effective.

“I think just doing what’s right by him,” Lue said. “So, just talking to medical staff throughout the course of the game, talking to him, seeing how he’s feeling and just kind of go from there. So, he can monitor his own body, he’s grown and he can tell us how he’s feeling. Sometimes you got to protect a player from themselves. And, so, that’s what my mindset is. Kawhi and our staff is the same way.”

Leonard played 34 minutes and 55 seconds in Game 2, his first since March 31. But he played just 24:32 in Game 3.

As it turned out, Lue acknowledged before practice Saturday, that was the plan.

Lue was asked how they will determine if Leonard should play limited minutes or not play at all.

“If he’s hurting and he can’t go, then he just can’t go,” Lue said. “But we haven’t gotten to that point yet.”

Lue was asked if Leonard will have a minutes restriction.

“To be determined,” Lue said. “It’s always going to be a restriction. It’s always going to be make sure we do right by him until he’s 100 percent. So, right now, we’ll just see how he feels going into it.”

Leonard missed the last eight regular-season games and the first playoff game before his return.

He’s shooting 45.8 percent from the field in two playoff games, but has missed all five of his three-pointers. He’s averaging 11 points and eight rebounds in the playoffs.

Leonard played in 68 games during the regular season, his body holding up. But it is a different story now.

“I’m not enjoying what Kawhi is going through,” Lue said. “He put in so much to work to get to this part of the season and not being 100 percent is tough on him. It’s tough on our team. So, I do feel bad for him.”

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