Kawhi Leonard Says 'Time Is Now' for Clippers to Improve After Loss to Kings

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistFebruary 23, 2020

Los Angeles Clippers' Kawhi Leonard (2) in action against the Sacramento Kings during the first half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

Kawhi Leonard won more championships last season than the Los Angeles Clippers have in franchise history, and he recognizes it's time for his new team to start rounding into form.

"You never know what could happen," he said following Saturday's 112-103 loss to the Sacramento Kings, per Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.com. "But I mean, now. The time is now. Just got to keep getting better."

Saturday marked the Clippers' third straight loss, and Leonard pointed to the need to get healthy and peak at the right time while heading into the stretch run.

"But it doesn't matter what seed you are," he continued. "Just got to keep fighting. It is about the right team peaking at the right time. I don't think we have even got there yet. It feels like we are getting close, but we just need guys to get healthy."

Along those lines, Los Angeles was without Paul George (hamstring) and Patrick Beverley (groin) in the loss. Youngmisuk noted the team started its 28th different lineup of the season, which has cut into its ability to fully develop chemistry.

Leonard rarely shows emotion on the floor, but there was a moment in the fourth quarter Saturday when he expressed frustration that Landry Shamet did not cut toward the basket on a break:

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Talent is not in question with the Clippers. They added Reggie Jackson and Marcus Morris Sr. to a rotation that includes two of the league's best players in Leonard and George, as well as a loaded supporting cast featuring Lou Williams, Beverley, Montrezl Harrell, Shamet and Ivica Zubac, among others.

Yet, they are looking up at the Los Angeles Lakers and Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference standings and are just one game ahead of the Houston Rockets and Utah Jazz.

It would be easy to assume they can flip a switch come playoff time with all that talent, but Leonard spoke with a sense of urgency after the latest loss.

Los Angeles will have the opportunity to start turning things around Monday against the Memphis Grizzlies.