The Clippers had to put the finishing touches on Friday night’s 121-108 win over the Nuggets without their best player.
Kawhi Leonard was forced to leave the Christmas Day contest with 6:07 remaining in the fourth quarter after colliding with teammate Serge Ibaka, whose elbow struck Leonard when both players attempted to corral a rebound. Leonard immediately fell to the floor and began bleeding profusely from his mouth.
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Leonard was eventually able to stand up and walk to the locker room under his own power. He was later ruled out for the rest of the game. The two-time MVP posted 21 points, seven assists, five rebounds and four steals in 30 minutes.
The team announced that Leonard received eight stitches to treat a mouth laceration. In his postgame media availability, Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said Leonard is “gonna be fine.”
“Really worried. I was thinking of the worst,” Clippers forward Paul George said. “I didn’t know if he was concussed or how hard of a hit [it was] or what actually happened because I didn’t see it. I just saw him laying on the ground. That was first and foremost, just making sure he was OK.”
After trailing by as many as 24 points in the second half, the Nuggets cut the Clippers’ lead down to 11 midway through the fourth quarter. Los Angeles was able to fend off the late rally with four different Clippers players scoring over the final five minutes.
“We know Kawhi is a great player,” Lue said. “We got to have the mindset that if he goes down, everybody has to be able to step up.”