December 1, 2021

DCTRS

Damascus Center for Theoretical and Civil Rights Studies

Kawhi Leonard’s absence felt in Clippers’ loss to Celtics

Every few minutes during Tuesday’s first quarter, a black graphic flashed during the Turner Sports telecast that seemed to be a signal to viewers: Do not adjust your set, what you are seeing is correct.

Reggie Jackson, the Clippers’ backup guard who had not started since Feb. 17, was on the floor inside Boston’s TD Garden at tipoff. Kawhi Leonard was nowhere to be seen.

Leonard had tried to warm up through back spasms but was ultimately scratched only minutes before tipoff. His night ended there.

His team’s chances to win didn’t.

Buoyed by Jackson’s season’s best, 25-point performance – one game after playing just three minutes in a loss at Milwaukee — and Paul George’s 32 points, the Clippers made 58% of their shots to lead by one at halftime and 53% of their shots through three quarters to again stay ahead by one, despite losing forward Marcus Morris to a concussion late in the first half.

But the Clippers ultimately couldn’t withstand missing two of their best shooters, unable to sustain their offense as a second consecutive loss slipped away in the final minutes during a 117-112 defeat to the Celtics.

In the fourth quarter the Clippers (24-13) made eight of their 22 shots, and just two field goals in the last 2 minutes, 43 seconds. George connected on two of his 10 shots, and one of his six three-pointers.

Kemba Walker scored 25 points to lead Boston (18-17), which won its third consecutive game. Jayson Tatum was limited to just 14 points but the Celtics made 16 of their 32 three-pointers.

The Clippers have one game remaining before the league’s all-star break, Thursday in Washington, and the availability of Leonard and Morris is unknown for that matchup.