Los Angeles Clippers head coach Ty Lue said he had nothing special to tell to his players after Kawhi Leonard went down but he expected them to step up as a team and secure the win over the Denver Nuggets. With 6:07 left in the game -- while Clippers forward Serge Ibaka was going for a rebound -- his elbow collided with Leonard's face and immediately sent the 2019 NBA Finals MVP to the floor.
The Clippers, who were up 108-97 when Leonard sustained the injury, kept their composure as they beat the Nuggets 121-108 on Christmas Day. "Nothing was said," coach Ty Lue replied when asked what the Clippers said to keep their composure down the stretch without Leonard, per ESPN.
"You know, just next man up. We know Kawhi is a great player. We got to have the mindset that if he goes down, everybody has to be able to step up." Leonard finished the game with 21 points, 7 assists, 5 rebounds and 4 steals and also required eight stitches for a mouth lacerations after leaving the floor with his mouth covered in blood.
"I didn't even see it," Lue said after the game, while Leonard was being evaluated. ".. He's going to be fine. He got up and walked off the floor, so he's good."
Nicolas Batum, Paul George were concerned for Leonard
"You don't want a player, any player, [to] go down like that with blood all over him and everywhere on the floor," Clippers forward Batum said.
"I think he's good. I just saw him in the locker room; he was OK, and that was kind of scary in the moment." George, who arrived with Leonard in the 2019 offseason, feared the worst. "Really worried," George said.
"I was thinking of the worst. I didn't know if he was concussed or how hard of a hit [it was] 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."
George, who led all scores for the Clippers on Christmas Day with 23, scored a game-high 33 points in a 116-109 win over the Los Angeles Lakers on the opening night. "Last year in the playoffs when he was missing shots, he was still talking, communicating, playing the right way, playing defense," Leonard said of George after the win over the Lakers.
"They just didn't fall for him. And tonight, his shots fell but obviously he is making my job easier by talking to people, giving instructions on missed assignments or if we are not running the plays right."