A bloodied Kawhi Leonard was forced from the LA Clippers’ game against the Denver Nuggets in the fourth quarter Friday night after a collision with a teammate left him needing eight stitches to treat a mouth laceration.
Serge Ibaka was going up for a defensive rebound when his elbow collided with Leonard’s mouth, sending the Clippers’ All-Star forward immediately to the floor. Leonard bled profusely from his mouth as he was treated on the floor before he was helped back to the locker room with 6:07 remaining in the game.
When Paul George saw a bloodied Leonard on the floor, he was very concerned.
“Really worried,” George said. “I was thinking of the worst. I didn’t know if he was concussed or how hard of a hit [it was] or what actually happened because I didn’t see it. I just saw him laying on the ground. That was first and foremost, just making sure he was OK.”
Without Leonard, the Clippers got a little revenge by holding on to a big lead in the second half and beating the Nuggets 121-108 in Denver. The Nuggets had previously defeated the Clippers in the second round of the playoffs last season after LA blew a 3-1 series lead.
“Nothing was said,” coach Ty Lue replied when asked what the Clippers said to keep their composure down the stretch without Leonard. “You know, just next man up. We know Kawhi is a great player. We got to have the mindset that if he goes down, everybody has to be able to step up.”
Leonard departed Friday’s game with the Clippers up 108-97. He had 21 points, 7 assists, 5 rebounds and 4 steals in 30 minutes.
“I didn’t even see it,” Lue said after the game while Leonard was being evaluated. “… He’s going to be fine. He got up and walked off the floor so he’s good.”
Clippers forward Nicolas Batum said he spoke with Leonard after the game and said the All-Star appeared to be fine.
“You don’t want a player, any player, [to] go down like that with blood all over him and everywhere on the floor,” Batum said. “I think he’s good. I just saw him in the locker room, he was OK and that was kind of scary in the moment.”
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