Kawhi Leonard nets 6 points in 25 minutes of

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LOS ANGELES — Saying that the recovery from a torn ACL can be a “two-year process,” Kawhi Leonard returned to the court and started his first game of the season for the LA Clippers on Thursday.

Leonard played 24 minutes, scoring six points, grabbing five rebounds and dishing four assists to help the Clippers pull out an ugly 96-91 win over the Detroit Pistons at Crypto.com Arena.

Afterward, Leonard would not go into detail about what kept him out of 12 straight games after he began the season playing in two of the first three games off the bench for the Clippers.

“Just rehabbing, getting ready,” Leonard said of what he was going through since experiencing stiffness in his surgically repaired right knee on Oct. 25. “I’m not going to explain it because I’m not a doctor, and nobody in here is one. So just getting back, ready to get on the floor.”

Playing with his minutes monitored, Leonard started the first 5 minutes, 47 seconds of the first quarter. He logged another 5:46 in the second quarter and 5:56 in the third. In the fourth quarter, Leonard played seven minutes but had to check out with 2:43 remaining.

The Clippers are thrilled to have Leonard back but acknowledge it is like starting over again as everyone adapts to the franchise player back in the mix and ramping his minutes back up.

Leonard reiterated that his return from a torn right ACL suffered in Game 4 of the second round against Utah on June 14, 2021, will be a long process.

“Like I said before, at the start of the season, it’s going to be a long journey,” Leonard said. “ACL recovery isn’t just one year. Everybody thinks that, but it’s a two-year process, so I know that and I’m going to keep going and going through the process.”

Fortunately for the Clippers, they were up 88-81 when Leonard had to exit for the rest of the game after trailing the Pistons by as much as 12.

Leonard shot only 2-for-8 overall from the field and saw his streak of scoring in double figures snapped at 177 straight regular-season…

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