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Kawhi Leonard didn’t play in the Clippers’ loss to the Sacramento Kings 124-103 on Thursday night because of tightness in his lower back.
Leonard was seen shooting before the game, but he didn’t come out with the starters in the Clippers’ first game at Staples Center since the death of Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna along with seven others in a helicopter crash Sunday.
The Clippers said Leonard was questionable before the game, but announced in the third quarter he was held out because of the injury.
Landry Shamet started in Leonard’s place and led the Clippers with 15 points.
Still, the Clippers did have Paul George, who had missed the last nine games with hamstring strain, and Patrick Beverley, who was out had missed the last three games with a sore groin, back in their starting lineup. However, the two combined for 19 points (Beverley 11, George eight).
De’Aaron Fox led the Kings with 34 points, eight assists and four steals. Buddy Hield had 19 points with seven rebounds coming off the bench for Sacramento.
Going into Thursday’s game, Leonard and the Clippers had three days off, last playing on Sunday in Orlando.The Clippers’ next game is Saturday against the Minnesota Timberwolves.