Clippers don't need Kawhi Leonard, or Tyronn Lue, to rally and beat Warriors


The momentum the Clippers built from an impressive trip had started to fizzle as they headed toward the break.

And they were trying to find their groove again while playing their last game before Sunday’s All-Star Game without star Kawhi Leonard, who sat out Wednesday night against the Golden State Warriors because of a strained left adductor.

Leonard has missed just five games, his 24.1 points per game and 6.1 rebounds sorely missed against another worthy Western Conference foe in the Warriors.

But he had to be happy to see the Clippers overcome coach Tyronn Lue getting ejected in the fourth quarter and Paul George fouling out and rally for a 130-125 win over the Warriors at Chase Center.

Norman Powell had a strong fourth quarter, scoring 12 of his 21 points to help rally the Clippers from a 14-point deficit. James Harden had 26 points, eight rebounds and seven assists and George had 24 points.

The win made the Clippers 2-2 in their last four games. This was after they had a 6-1 record on the road trip at the end of January and the early part of February, which allowed them at one point to post the top record in the West.

The Clippers (36-17) are third in the uber-competitive Western Conference, 1½-game games behind first-place Minnesota.

Before the Clippers play their next game at second-place Oklahoma City on Feb. 22, Leonard is scheduled to play for the West in the All-Star Game. Lue was “not sure if he’ll play” because of his injury.

“I don’t think it’s serious,” Lue said. “He played through it last game and was experiencing some soreness in the hip and so when the game got out of reach we didn’t bring him back in the fourth quarter, just being smart about it. But he did play through it last game.”

The Clippers also were without guard Bones Hyland and forward P.J. Tucker because they needed an “extra day for some head space,” said a person with knowledge of the situation not authorized to speak publicly. Both are expected back for the game at the Thunder.

Lue said last week that “we like P.J. here and he’ll get an opportunity.”

Lue said the West is so challenging because there are “a lot of stars” to contend with every night.

“A lot of great talent,” Lue said. “Every single night, you’re up against a tough task. So, just the talent level in the Western Conference. In the Eastern Conference too. But just every night you are playing Denver, you’re playing the Lakers and you come and you got Golden State, you got the Clippers. Now Minnesota has emerged with Anthony Edwards and that team. OKC with Shai [Gilgeous-Alexander]. So, every night you are dealing with a top-10 player, every single night. So, that’s what makes it so tough.”

Lue was not happy with the officiating, picking up two technical fouls in the fourth quarter, the last with 9:36 left that ejected him with his team down nine points.



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