2021 Playoffs: West Final | Suns vs. Clippers

LA Clippers rule Kawhi Leonard out for Game 3

Clippers star Kawhi Leonard will miss his fifth straight game with a sprained right knee.

From NBA.com News Services

Kawhi Leonard was among the postseason’s best performers before spraining his right knee in the second round against Utah.

The LA Clippers will battle the Suns once again without star forward Kawhi Leonard, who was officially ruled out for Thursday’s Game 3 (9 ET, ESPN) as he continues to rehab his sprained right knee.

It will mark the Clippers’ fifth straight game without Leonard, who was injured late in Game 4 of their Western Conference semifinal series with Utah. The Clippers won that game, then the next two to complete their second comeback from 2-0 down in as many series.

But they’ve lost two straight to Phoenix to open the Western Conference finals, putting them in the same 2-0 deficit to which they’ve become accustomed but without any assurances of Leonard’s return.

Leonard had been averaging 30.4 points, 7.7 rebounds and 4.4 assists in 11 playoff games before his injury.

While the Clippers will once again be missing Leonard, the Suns are set to have more firepower added to their lineup. Point guard Chris Paul reportedly intends to play in Game 3 after missing the first two games of the West finals due to the NBA’s Health and Safety protocols. He is officially listed as probable.

The 36-year-old point guard, a former Clipper, averaged 25.5 points, 10.2 assists and 5.0 rebounds in the second round against Denver.

That puts more of the burden for the Clippers on Paul George, who has been streaky in the playoffs during his career.

The Clippers faltered late in Game 2 vs. the Suns. Can they bounce back and win Game 3?

He’s averaging 40.7 minutes this postseason, similar to his averages with the Indiana Pacers (40.8) in 2018-19 and the Oklahoma City Thunder (43.0) in 2016-17.

“Whenever he’s taking a lot of jump shots and not really attacking, you can tell he’s tired,” Lue said after Game 2, when George led the team with 26 points. But he missed two huge free throws with 0.9 seconds after making big plays down the stretch to give LA the lead.

Chris Haynes reports that Chris Paul will play in Game 3 passing the NBA's Health and Safety Protocols.

George insisted, “I got stronger as the game went on.”

The 31-year-old forward hasn’t been this deep in the playoffs since 2013-14, when the Pacers lost to LeBron James and the Miami in the Eastern Conference finals for the second year in a row.

George has scored 20 or more points in all 15 playoff games so far.

“If I have to do more, I’ll do that,” he said.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.