Clippers' Kawhi Leonard Says He's 'Feeling Better' After Knee-Injury Recovery

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistJanuary 11, 2020

Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard, left, shoots as Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green, second from left, Glenn Robinson III and forward Omari Spellman defend during the second half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 10, 2020, in Los Angeles. The Clippers won 109-100. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard, who has missed 10 games this season because of injury management, said the knee setback that's plagued him is improving.

"I feel better," Leonard told reporters after Friday's 109-100 win over the Golden State Warriors. "Feeling better. I'm able to jump without it grabbing too much. And hopefully I just keep going uphill from here."

Leonard compiled 36 points, nine rebounds and five assists in the win over Golden State, which was the Clippers' fourth in their last five. The Clippers have moved into a tie with the Denver Nuggets for the No. 2 seed in the West, even though Leonard and Paul George (shoulders, hamstring) have missed significant time.

Kawhi is yet to play in a back-to-back this season, and it's unclear if the Clippers have any plans to have him do so. The injury management follows a pattern that began last season with the Toronto Raptors, which allowed Leonard to peak during their run to the NBA championship.

"You know, he's been doing it a lot lately," Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. "I think he is in a far better place now than he was in Game 1 [of the regular season]. Let's just put it like that.

"You can see it with him, you can see it in the practices, it's just going up. You can feel it, you can see it, he has a better thrust now. And it's good, it has been really good to see."

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The Clippers have little reason to push Leonard to play in back-to-backs during the regular season. He's by far their best player, and even if he's healthy enough to play, it's clear he's uncomfortable in the back-to-back setting. Most of Leonard's falling out with the Spurs was related to how the team handled his quad injury.

So long as Kawhi is healthy and peaking come April, May and June, the Clippers are more than fine with the arrangement how it is.