Kawhi Leonard a late scratch against Kings with lower back tightness

Kawhi Leonard missed the Clippers' game against the Kings on Thursday due to back tightness. (Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Though he went through pregame warmups and intended to play, Kawhi Leonard was stuck watching from the sidelines on Thursday night at the Staples Center.

The Los Angeles Clippers star was a late scratch from their 124-103 loss to the Sacramento Kings while dealing with lower back tightness.

Leonard participated normally ahead of the game on Thursday, though retreated to the locker room while the game started so their medical staff could examine his back further.

It’s not clear when or how Leonard injured his lower back. He played in their win against the Orlando Magic on Sunday and dropped 31 points and 14 rebounds. The team has not played since, however, as their game against the Lakers on Tuesday was postponed in the wake of Kobe Bryant’s death.

Leonard has averaged 27.4 points and 7.6 rebounds in 36 games for the Clippers this season, though has frequently missed games — especially on back-to-back nights — while nursing minor injuries.

The Clippers struggled without Leonard, too. After building up a brief 10-point lead near the end of the first quarter, their offense disappeared. The Clippers dropped just  14 points as a team in the second quarter, allowing the Kings to suddenly mount a 20-point lead before the break.

By then, it was simply too late. Sacramento cruised to the 21-point win, its third in its last four games.

Montrezl Harrell led the Clippers with 21 points off the bench in the loss, shooting 9-of-16 from the field. Lou Williams added 22 points, and Landry Shamet finished with 15. De’Aaron Fox led the Kings with 34 points on the night. Buddy Hield added 19 off the bench, shooting 7-of-14 from the field, and Cory Joseph finished with 16.

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