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SOURCES: Clippers fear Kawhi ACL injury as series shifts to Utah

 

 

     (AP) — All-NBA forward Kawhi Leonard has a right knee injury that may keep him out of the Los Angeles Clippers’ lineup for Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals on Wednesday night, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.

Leonard’s status hinges on what he and the Clippers learn after additional examination and treatment, said the person, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the team had not divulged the injury.

Leonard was not listed on the injury report that the Clippers filed with the league Tuesday night. That report is scheduled to be updated Wednesday.

ESPN first reported that Leonard is dealing with the knee injury.

Leonard, a two-time NBA Finals MVP, is averaging 30.4 points on 57% shooting in the playoffs.

The injury appeared to occur with about 5:20 left in Game 4 of the series against Utah on Monday night, when he was fouled on a drive by Utah’s Bojan Bogdanovic (BOY’-ahn bahg-DAH’-noh-vich).

 

     — Phoenix guard Chris Paul has entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols and it is unclear whether he’ll be available for the start of the Western Conference finals next week, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. The person told The Associated Press that the Suns are not certain exactly how long Paul will have to be away from the team. A second person told the AP that Paul has been vaccinated against COVID-19. That may mean that Paul, if he has tested positive, could be cleared to return more quickly than those who tested positive earlier this season before vaccines were readily available. The earliest the West finals would begin is Sunday. It depends on how long the other West semifinal series between Utah and the Los Angeles Clippers lasts.

     — A person familiar with the situation says Stan Van Gundy is out as Pelicans coach following just one season at the helm. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Wednesday because the move has not been publicly announced. Van Gundy was hired last October about two months before the start of a pandemic-delayed and shortened season. He coached a Pelicans squad led by All-Star Zion Williamson to a 31-41 record and New Orleans missed the playoffs. The move means Pelicans basketball operations chief David Griffin will be hiring his second coach in as many season after firing Alvin Gentry last summer.

 

      (AP) — The Philadelphia 76ers and Atlanta Hawks have each won two games in their NBA Eastern Conference semifinal series heading into Game 5 Wednesday in Philadelphia. The Sixers have to try to win the series with Joel Embiid (joh-EHL’ ehm-BEED’) playing with torn cartilage in his right knee. Embiid missed all 12 shots in the second half of a Game 4 loss. Ben Simmons also continues to struggle for the 76ers. Simmons went 1-for-5 from the free-throw line in Game 4 and is just 18-for-52 in the playoffs.

     The Western Conference semifinal series between the Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Clippers is also tied 2-2. The Jazz return to Salt Lake City with their young star Donovan Mitchell dealing with a sore right ankle. Mitchell has hit at least five 3-pointers in five straight games. The top-seeded Jazz have lost back-to-back playoff games.

     The Clippers have confidence and a winning streak, but it’s not clear if they’ll have Kawhi Leonard. He and Paul George have each scored at least 20 points in all 11 games this postseason. They are just the third duo in NBA history to do that in a team’s first 11 playoff games and the first since Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant with the Lakers in 2003.

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