Clippers HC Justifies Baffling Kawhi Leonard Decision as Lakers End Losing Streak: “That’s On Me”

Published 01/08/2024, 12:24 AM EST

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USA Today via Reuters

Despite the two teams that stand far apart in terms of their presence in the NBA world, the Lakers and Clippers seemed like equals on the court on Sunday. Even when their directions were way opposite overall this season, they locked horns in a tough competition tonight. The Clippers led most of the game, but the Lakers got their game’s largest lead at 94-84 with 8:19 left in the last quarter.

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But, despite their best efforts, the Lakers beat the Clippers tonight, ending their losing streak. The final score, in favor of the Lakers, read – 106-103.

Fans and analysts believed the Clippers could have won tonight. They were bang-on with their performance and were headed to yet another win when their head coach intervened and made a decision that left many baffled. Ty Lue, the HC benched Kawhi Leonard during the last (approximately) 2 and a half minutes. Post the match, he came up with his set of reasoning for the same.

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Clippers HC, Tyronn “Ty” Lue, came forward with the real reason he benched Kawhi Leonard tonight. He takes the blame on himself, saying that he was on “minutes restriction” which is why he spent the last few “very crucial” minutes of the game stuck to the bench. He’s been on the bench since he checked out at the 2:47 mark, struggling a bit during the game. He shot 6-for-17 and 2-for-7 from 3, getting 15 points, 8 rebounds along with 4 fouls on the night.

Kawhi Leonard speaks on ‘minutes restriction’

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Leonard, when asked about the decision to bench him, replied, “I guess we were trying to hit a certain minute mark, and that’s what happened”. Many fans feel that he seemed frustrated with the decision altogether. He further continues to add, “I would love to be on the floor and play, but it is what it is. We have more games to play. That’s how it rolled out tonight.”

With Leonard’s injury history, Lue’s minutes restriction seems like a good idea. The fact that the Clippers’ only losses lately have been without the 2x champ in the lineup highlights his importance.

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As per the HC’s understanding, with 5 games scheduled in the next 8 days for the Clippers, this move seemed the most plausible. Benching him during the last minutes of the game happened because he was playing on-court during the initial minutes of the game. As per Ty Lue, Leonard did a wonderful job bringing the game to a close win for them, so they just had to play smartly to save some of his minutes for the upcoming back-to-back games, especially since he’s coming off the back of an injury.

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What do you make of Ty Lue’s reasoning to bench Leonard? Would the Clippers have won the game had Leonard stayed on the floor?

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Written by:

Saumya Khanduja

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One take at a time

Navigating the dynamic world of NBA narratives, I find solace in the rhythm of the game and the symphony of stories that unfold on and off the court. As an NBA editor at EssentiallySports, I am privileged to be at the intersection of passion and profession, where every buzzer-beater and behind-the-scenes tale fuels my love for the game. With a keen eye for the nuances that make basketball more than just a sport, I ensure to weave the right words to capture the essence of each slam dunk, every strategic play, and the relentless pursuit of greatness by athletes who defy gravity.
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Edited by:

Sameen Nawathe

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