Nobody wants to see an opponent sustain a serious injury. So the entire NBA world is relieved that Kawhi Leonard's bloodied face has survived a Christmas Day elbow against the Denver Nuggets by getting eight stitches to close up the laceration in his mouth.
The Dallas Mavericks play the Leonard's Clippers in Los Angeles on Sunday afternoon. And at 0-2? Frankly, the Mavs are surely relieved that Leonard has been ruled out.
Late in the fourth quarter of what would be a 121-108 Clippers win over the Nuggets, Leonard collided with teammate Serge Ibaka. Leonard's knees buckled, and while he eventually walked off the court under his own power, there was understandable concern about a serious injury to his jaw.
"(I was) really worried,” said teammate Paul George. “I was thinking of the worst. I didn’t know if he was concussed or how hard of a hit or what actually happened because I didn’t see it. I just saw him laying on the ground. That was first and foremost, just making sure he was OK.”
Leonard finished the game with 21 points, five rebounds, seven assists, four steals, and one block on 8-of-14 shooting in 30 minutes. Later in the day, of course, the Mavs also played in L.A., and were served some humble pie for Christmas in the form of a ... Lakers win.
In addition to Leonard's absence, the Clippers have ruled out Marcus Morris for the Sunday game.
The Mavs didn't lose three in a row all of last season, the only NBA team to accomplish that feat. They've now started this year with losses at the Suns and the Lakers ... and as it regards Mavs-killer Kawhi, his absence figures to help them as they seek their first win.