The NBA preseason 2022 is underway as Los Angeles Clippers defeated Portland Trail Blazers 102-97 at the Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle on the fourth matchday. Clippers small forward Kawhi Leonard, who missed the entire 2021-22 season due to a torn right ACL, returned on court and helped his side win on Tuesday.
The two-time NBA champion made a solid impact on his return to court in 476 days as he scored 11 points and made four rebounds, two assists and two steals in his 16 minutes of appearance. He was only behind Amir Coffey (15) and Paul George (12) in scoring leaders for LA Clippers.
Leonard, 31, started off the game with a 25-foot 3-pointer and went on to dominate the game on his return since June 14, 2021. Watch the best plays from Kawhi Leonard against Trail Blazers:
After the game, Kawhi told reporters, "It was funny because (Paul George) asked me if I had the bubbles before the game, like the stomach, I am like, nah."
For the Portland Trail Blazers, point guard Damian Lilliard (16 points, 2 assists, 3 rebounds), forward Jerami Grant (14 points, 4 rebounds, 3 blocks and five turnovers), and center Jusuf Nurkic (13 points, 9 rebounds) displayed an impressive performances but couldn't help their team to win the game.
Meanwhile, Clippers will next face Minnesota Timberwolves on October 10 and Denver Nuggets on October 13 for their final preseason games before opening their NBA 2022-23 regular season against city rivals LA Lakers on October 21.