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Kawhi Leonard last-minute scratch vs. Kings due to lower back strain

Kawhi Leonard was a surprise absentee from Thursday’s 124-103 Kings win over the Clippers due to a lower back strain. The All-NBA forward suffered the setback during pregame warmups and, despite efforts from the training staff during the game, was ultimately unable to play.

Clippers coach Doc Rivers told reporters after the game that Leonard’s back “locked up” during warmups and that he is unsure whether the setback is a long-term concern.

Leonard is averaging 27.4 points, 7.6 rebounds, 5.2 assists and 2.0 steals in his first season with the Clippers. The reigning Finals MVP is a Western Conference starter in the 2020 All-Star Game and is the team’s only representative in that game.

It was the 13th game Leonard has missed this season but the first not due to his left knee. Paul George and Leonard have played together in only 18 of the Clippers’ 48 games. The last time it happened was Jan. 2 against Detroit. George missed 11 games at the beginning of the season after having shoulder surgery last summer. Then he was out 10 of the last 11 due to his left hamstring.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.