April 21, 2021

DCTRS

Damascus Center for Theoretical and Civil Rights Studies

Kawhi Leonard, Paul George likely to return to lineup Friday

Clippers stars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George are on track to return to the lineup Friday against Orlando after missing two games because of the NBA’s health and safety protocols.

Leonard and George were not listed on the team’s injury report Friday, indicating they are expected to play in the third game of the team’s six-game road trip.

The Clippers went 1-1 without their two leading scorers, who entered the league’s protocols on Monday.

The Clippers (14-5) will not be at full strength against the Magic (8-11), however. Starting guard Patrick Beverley will miss his third consecutive game because of soreness in his right knee, which he injured Sunday during a victory against Oklahoma City. Before the Clippers’ 109-105 win Thursday in Miami, coach Tyronn Lue said he had no timetable for Beverley’s return.

The Clippers made 17 three-pointers to beat the Heat, including nine in the third quarter, the first time they have shot better than 31% on three-pointers in four games.

“Obviously we know the star power that we are down and the intensity with Pat Bev,” forward Marcus Morris said after Thursday’s win. “All of us had big plays and we got to continue to play next man up. I think we did a good job. I think Lue did a hell of a job of telling us to just play free.

“That second half, that first unit came up there and moved the ball and made shots. Felt like they were having a lot of fun and came in and tried to keep it up. We just got the win. Everybody came in and contributed.”

The return of Leonard and George will give that offense more options. Leonard has averaged 25.9 points on 50% shooting, including 41.9% on three-pointers. George is shooting 50.4%, including 48.4% on threes, en route to 23.9 points per game. The pair has also combined for 11.1 assists per game.