Kawhi Leonard will no longer be available to play during the Clippers' series against the Utah Jazz, and the news sent the NBA world into shock. Not just the NBA world though, but also his teammates.
"It was a blow," Paul George said. "It was a tough blow. But at the end of the day, we don't want nothing but the best for Kawhi. It's a positive if he can get some rest. Hopefully, we can hold it down...Our season is alive because of his shouldering of all the work he's done. We've got to hold it together and continue to keep this boat afloat until he returns."
Leonard was expected to play in Game 5 and traveled with the team to Utah. He told teammates that he was okay, but then the news suddenly came last night with around 24 hours left before Game 5. No one was expecting it, but the Clippers figured out a way to persevere in Game 5 in Utah without him.
Ty Lue said post-game that Paul George approached him at shootaround and said "T, I got us." That's exactly what George did, putting up: 37 points, 16 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 steal, 2 blocks, on 55% shooting. It was an absolutely heroic performance by George when his team needed it most, and his teammates appreciated every bit of it.
"He was incredible," Reggie Jackson said. "Paul is special. He was All-NBA this year for a reason."
Jackson was special in his own right during Game 5, leading all Clippers with 12 points in the fourth quarter.
The Clippers figured out a way to win Game 5 on the road against the best team in the NBA, without Kawhi Leonard. They're one win away from getting to their first Conference Finals in franchise history. Game 6 may not be an elimination game for the Clippers, but it is a must-win.