Kawhi Leonard leaves Clippers game with back spasms

Los Angeles Clippers’ star forward Kawhi Leonard left Tuesday’s game against the Minnesota Timberwolves in the first half due to back spasms, the team announced. Leonard played the entire first quarter but was noticeably absent during the second quarter, seen leaving the Clippers’ downtown arena.

Despite Leonard's early exit, the Minnesota Timberwolves staged an impressive comeback, rallying from a 22-point deficit to secure a 118-100 victory over the Clippers. Anthony Edwards led the charge for the Timberwolves with an impressive 37-point performance, while Nickeil Alexander-Walker added a season-high 28 points.

Mike Conley contributed 23 points for the Timberwolves, helping the team avoid their first three-game losing streak of the season. The win marked Minnesota's largest comeback since November 2012.

Timberwolves' center Rudy Gobert exited the game late due to a rib injury. Coach Chris Finch praised Gobert for his defensive efforts, which played a crucial role in the team's comeback.

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Following Leonard's departure, the Clippers struggled to maintain their lead. Paul George scored 22 points, and James Harden added 12, but it wasn't enough to fend off the resilient Timberwolves.

Two basketball players in action during a game, with the player in white, Anthony Edwards, driving past the defender in blue, Kawhi Leonard from the LA Clippers.

Anthony Edwards #5 of the Minnesota Timberwolves drives to the basket past Kawhi Leonard #2 of the LA Clippers during a 118-100 Timberwolves win at Crypto.com Arena on March 12, 2024 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) User

Clippers' coach Tyronn Lue acknowledged the toughness of the Timberwolves, admitting his team needed to step up their game. Lue also revealed Leonard had been dealing with back issues for the past couple of days.

Karl-Anthony Towns remains sidelined with a knee injury, likely to miss the remainder of the regular season. However, the Timberwolves remain resilient in his absence, with Coach Finch expressing confidence in his team's ability to overcome challenges.

The Clippers will look to bounce back from their second consecutive loss, while the Timberwolves aim to build on their momentum as they continue their road trip.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.